USA: House Overrides Governor’s Veto

Yesterday, the S.C. House voted 111-1 to override the Governor’s veto of an act protecting state’s waterways and economic interests. The measure now goes to the Senate where, by a 2/3 override vote of that body, it can become state law. First approved by a 111-0 House vote and then by a 37-0 Senate vote, the vetoed act:

– Acknowledges DHEC violated existing 2007 state law, issuing an invalid dredging permit when it bypassed the approval of the Savannah River Maritime Commission

– Reaffirmed laws requiring the Governor’s DHEC Board to gain Commission approval before acting on Savannah River navigability, depth, dredging, sludge disposal, etc issues

– Retroactively codifies existing 2007 state law, clearly stating the Maritime Commission’s authority supersedes DHEC’s when related to the above mentioned river issues.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell issued this statement about the House’s 111-1 override vote:

We had hoped that the Governor would join us in the fight to protect South Carolina’s environment and economy by signing this act into law – Unfortunately, that did not happen. Instead, the Governor’s veto message contradicts itself: It says the act ‘amounts to unconstitutional legislative overreaching’ and ‘has no practical effect’. As contradictory as this veto message is, it still makes more sense than DHEC’s reasoning for supporting this dredging project.

“With DHEC’s decision negatively affecting an industry directly tied to 1 in every 5 South Carolina jobs, vetoing this measure sends the wrong message to our state’s citizens and businesses. As a result, the Legislature is taking quick action to protect our taxpayers.

“Based solely on the merits and scientific benchmarks of this case, DHEC was correct in its original decision to deny this dredging permit. DHEC’s reversal, followed by Governor Haley’s veto, puts our state at a competitive disadvantage and endangers our natural resources – this is a wrong we must fix. This act does just that, making it abundantly clear and airtight that this dredging permit was improperly issued.

“Some news reports have called this vetoed act an attempt to ‘revoke’ DHEC’s dredging permit for Georgia’s inland port. Such reasoning falsely assumes there is a valid permit to revoke – when in fact no valid permit exists. DHEC clearly violated existing 2007 state law when it usurped the Maritime Commission’s legal authority, unilaterally voting to support dredging 36 miles of the Savannah River. Had DHEC simply followed the law or had the Governor supported this unanimously-passed act, this legislative intervention would be unnecessary.”


Dredging Today Staff, February 29, 2012