Pa. farm bill veto holds up in court

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SALEM, Ohio – Gov. Edward Rendell’s controversial veto of a right-to-farm bill stands, according to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
The decision comes after a squabble between Rendell and Republican leaders that began New Year’s Eve and ended up in court this summer.
The lawsuit alleged Rendell’s veto did not reach the correct office in time, and the bill should become law.
The bill would’ve held local governments financially responsible when they limited farms beyond state law.
Disputed veto. The veto controversy was over how the word “adjournment” is interpreted in the constitution.
According to the state constitution, if a veto is not submitted within 10 days, the bill becomes a law. It also says if the legislature is adjourned, the veto must be filed with the secretary of state’s office.
At the time of Rendell’s veto, the legislature was on a holiday break, so it was submitted to the secretary’s office.
Republican leaders said a holiday break does not constitute as an “adjournment” and the veto should’ve instead been filed with the House of Representatives, as normally would be done.
A five-judge panel unanimously sided with Rendell and said they “find the language to be clear and unambiguous” – the holiday break is an adjournment and the veto was filled appropriately.
Judge Rochelle Friedman went on to write that if they interpreted “adjournment” to mean only a final adjournment, it would present a new problem.
“The General Assembly could prevent the governor’s veto, and thereby subvert the checks and balances of the Pennsylvania Constitution, by passing a bill, presenting it to the governor and adjourning for a period longer than 10 days,” she wrote.
Republican leaders plan to appeal, said Drew Crompton, spokesperson to Senate Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer.
Reasoning. Rendell said he vetoed the bill because it wasn’t comprehensive.
In response, he proposed an alternative in August that would require farmers and local governments to compromise rather than going to court.
This solution, called the Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environment initiative (ACRE), sets up an agricultural review board to help farmers and officials or residents negotiate a solution.
According to Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, it has not yet been introduced to the General Assembly.
(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

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