City council proposes reforming pocket veto

By Jake Galvin, Guest Writer

Mayor Aftab Pureval agrees with Cincinnati City Council that the pocket veto should be reformed to prevent mayoral abuse. Council voted 8-1 to put the pocket veto on the ballot this November. Any registered voter in the City of Cincinnati is eligible to vote on the matter on or before Nov. 8.

The Cincinnati City Council voted 8-1 last Friday in favor of putting Mayor Pureval’s pocket veto on the ballot this November. 

A pocket veto is a measure used by presidents, governors and mayors that prevents legislation from passing by not signing it or recommending it to the next stage of government. Instead of officially vetoing the measure, the executive puts it into their “pocket” then proceeds to not sign it. 

If passed by the voters, this legislation would require the mayor to refer legislation to the council within four scheduled meetings. This period of four meetings would give the mayor time to negotiate with council members about disagreements surrounding parts of a bill. In the event that the mayor does not refer a bill after four council meetings, the city council clerk will be given the authority to give the bill to the council, effectively bypassing the mayor.

This legislation comes seven years after the Charter Review Task Force recommended eliminating the pocket veto. 

Since then, there has been much controversy over the role of the pocket veto in city politics. In June 2015, Cincinnati mayor John Cranley threatened city council with the possibility of a pocket veto if they made changes to the proposed city budget for that year. 

That led to vice mayor David Mann negotiating with Cranley and striking a deal that didn’t dissolve the pocket veto but it would instead give Cranley the option to use a line item veto on the budget. 

While the pocket veto ignores legislation instead of actively vetoing it, the line item veto allows the mayor to go through the proposed budget and veto specific clauses while passing others. 

However, current Mayor Aftab Pureval has stated that he has no intention of using the pocket veto during his time as mayor and has aligned himself with the council on this issue. The only disagreement about this legislation is the time in which the mayor should be required to submit legislation to the council. 

Councilwoman Liz Keating introduced a similar measure concerning the pocket veto, with it giving the mayor a negotiating period of two meetings instead of four. Keating wanted both her version and the original version on the ballot box this November; however, in a vote of 8-1, the Council decided to postpone Keating’s version. 

“I would like to throw it out there that it wouldn’t hurt to give the voters the opportunity to decide what they think is better — two versus four,” Keating said. 

“With this amendment, we are creating an explicit timeline that myself and all our city leaders from now into the future would be held accountable,” Pureval said.

“This is the best time to do it because the mayor and council have a good relationship. It’s not being done out of any personal vindictive or slight to the mayor,” Councilmember Mark Jeffreys said.

This measure will be on the ballot on Election day, November 8th.