Shelly vetoes roundup bill

By Marley Shebala
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, June 8, 2012

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(Special to the Times - Leigh T. Jimmie)

Horses graze on the grassland near Cameron, Ariz., on Monday, June 4.

President Ben Shelly on June 6 line-item vetoed the Navajo Nation Council's appropriation of $2.7 million for a six-month reservation-wide roundup of feral horses.


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His use of the line-item veto authority, which is not subject to an override, rather than a full veto of the bill, which would be subject to an override, immediately raised questions by members of the Budget and Finance Committee.

On Thursday, the B&F chair, LoRenzo Bates, said, "Line-item veto means line-item veto and I don't know how he exercised line-item veto."

It becomes "questionable" if Shelly line-item vetoed certain budget numbers in the bill as opposed to vetoing the entire bill, Bates explained.

He noted that Shelly's use of line-item veto could be challenged on the question of "the extent of what line-item veto entails."

Members of the Council approved the funds for the roundup on May 25 because the combination of drought and overgrazing was turning portions of the reservation into sand dunes as well as other concerns.

Katherine Benally, who chairs the Resources and Development Committee, sponsored the roundup legislation.

Along with the approval, the Council asked Shelly to declare an emergency so funds could be released and the program could begin immediately.

In his June 6 veto message to the Council, which was not released to the Navajo Times until Thursday, Shelly stated that he used the veto because there's no plan that involves the nation and local elected officials.

He also said there is "tight budget uncertainty" because of possible federal budget cuts. Also the chapters, grazing officials and land boards did not take the lead in the roundup proposal.

Shelly also vetoed a Council bill that would authorize an increase in the number consecutive terms a school board member can serve from two to four.

Shelly said increasing the terms is not a solution for the lack of school board candidates.

The Navajo Board of Election Supervisors and reservation school board associations recommended unlimited terms to resolve the serious lack of school board candidates.