Horseless Racing Repeal Veto Challenged In Supreme Court

The Coeur d’Alene Indian tribe has challenged Gov. Butch Otter’s veto of a law passed to repeal the slot machine gambling at Idaho race tracks during the last session.

It sounds convoluted at best, but legislators during the 2015 session voted overwhelmingly to repeal a 2013 approval of so-called “instant racing, or historic video racing.” In short, the Idaho constitution outlaws slots and most gaming. Legislators claimed the machines currently in use were not the ones they approved.

Otter vetoed the repeal law, but didn’t follow the proper procedures, according to the tribal lawsuit. The lawsuit, filed directly with the Idaho Supreme Court, asks the justices to order Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to certify SB 1011 into law, saying that’s what the Idaho Constitution requires.

“The powers defined by the Constitution are an essential part of the checks and balances of our democracy,” Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the tribe, wrote in legal arguments filed with the court. “The governor cannot enlarge his veto power under the Constitution. … The Constitution was not created for the benefit of the governor or the Legislature. Instead, it was created by our founders to protect the citizens of Idaho and their right to have duly enacted laws enforced. This basic right goes to the heart of our democracy.”

When it came time to challenge the veto, legislators changed their votes under considerable back room political pressure.

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