ab998AB 998 - Vetoed in Full
State of Wisconsin
Office of the Governor

May 27, 2004


I am vetoing Assembly Bill 998. This bill - nearly identical to two other bills I have already vetoed - requires legislative approval of Indian gaming compacts.

As I stated in the veto messages of those earlier bills, negotiations with the 11 Native American tribes that have gaming compacts with the state are a complex and involved process. In its recent ruling, and in holding that the current law delegating negotiating power to the Governor was constitutional, the Wisconsin Supreme Court noted that the current version of the law is “an expedient solution to the quandary of who should act on behalf of the state in gaming negotiations.” Additionally, the court held that “the legislature acted logically by vesting the authority to act on behalf of the state in the governor.”

While I disagree with the majority's opinion in many respects, they got it right on this point. These difficult agreements cannot be expediently and reasonably resolved through the addition of 132 extra negotiators, each with differing, often disparate goals. The Legislature needs to move on from this issue, an issue it has lost twice to a veto and once to the Supreme Court. I would also note that in passing the existing law, the Legislature itself gave the Governor the authority - in fact, the responsibility - of negotiating on behalf of the state. The Assembly vote was an overwhelming, bipartisan 94-3, and the Senate concurred by voice vote.

I look forward to working with the Native American tribes to resolve the remaining uncertainty around these compacts, and to finalize agreements that will provide for continued economic prosperity for the people of Wisconsin and tribal members.

Respectfully submitted,