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Bill Presented to Governor After Legislative Session Is Invalid


In Williams v. Greyson, Civil Action No. 08-CI-856 (Franklin Cir. Ct. Div. I Jan. 21, 2009), the Franklin Circuit Court (“Court”) entered a final judgment affirming its July 31, 2008 interlocutory Order that held House Bill 79 (“H.B. 79”) was not validly enacted because of the Kentucky General Assembly’s failure to deliver the bill to the Governor before its adjournment as a matter of law at midnight on April 15, 2008.

President of the Senate, David L. Williams, requested reconsideration of the Court’s July 31, 2008 ruling where he contested the constitutionality of the Governor’s veto of H.B. 79 under the ten (10) day time period set forth in Section 88 of the Kentucky Constitution for vetoes. The Court, in issuing the interlocutory Order, held that H.B. 79 was invalid because the General Assembly delivered the Bill to the Governor on April 16, 2008. Thus, H.B. 79 was not “immediately presented” to the Governor for his signature as required by Section 56 of the Kentucky Constitution nor was it enacted within the legislative session pursuant to Section 43 of the Kentucky Constitution, which requires that all legislative business be completed by April 15.

In his motion for reconsideration, Williams requested that the Court enter a judgment declaring that H.B. 79 was validly enacted, and sought declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the Governor to comply with H.B. 79. Senator Williams also claimed that H.B. 79 contained a duly enacted “six (6) year road plan” under KRS 176.420 and argued that H.B. 79 controlled executive spending on highway construction projects during the current 2008-10 budget biennium because it was incorporated by reference in the 2008-10 budget.

The Governor filed a cross-motion seeking a declaration that H.B. 79 was not validly enacted or was the subject of a timely gubernatorial veto. The Governor also argued that the six year road plan is an executive act, subject to legislative revisions, and thus, he has executive authority to adopt and amend the six year road plan in the absence of legislative action.

The Court reaffirmed its holding that H.B. 79 was invalid, stating that “[p]resentment to the Governor is a legislative action, and […] it must be completed before adjournment because the legislature has no power to act or to force its subordinate officers to comply with their mandatory duties after adjournment.”

The Court also held that the Governor had legal authority to implement the six year road plan as submitted to the 2008 General Assembly under KRS 176.420 and KRS 176.440, but not to implement executive changes in the six year road plan adopted unilaterally after the adjournment of the 2008 legislature because “there is no provision in KRS Chapter 176 that allows the Secretary of Transportation or the Department of Highways to make unilateral changes to the plan after the adjournment of the General Assembly.” The Court reasoned that “[i]f the General Assembly adjourns without making changes to the plan submitted by the Department of Highways, that plan takes effect by operation of law, so long as the General Assembly has provided funding for it, as it did here.”

Accordingly, the Court held that H.B. 79 was invalid and the Governor must implement the six year road plan as submitted to the 2008 General Assembly, but cannot amend the plan.

In addition to H.B. 79, two Bills relating to taxation, House Bill 2 and House Bill 704, were delivered to the Governor on April 16, 2008. H.B. 2 created nonrefundable state income tax credits for qualified energy property. H.B. 704 amended KRS 131.183 to change interest rates and the computation of interest on tax refunds. Williams v. Greyson, however, only addresses H.B. 79.

If you have questions about this topic or any other legal issue, please contact any member of the firm's State and Local Tax Team.

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