Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Dan Hopkins 303-866-6324
Sarah Bramwell 303-866-6323
(Denver) – Gov. Owens today welcomed the decision by Denver District Court Judge H. Jeffrey Bayless in Colorado General Assembly v. Owens et al. upholding his vetoes of certain provisions of the Long Bill (the main budget bill).
"This decision protects the right of future governors to prudently manage state government," said Owens. "It's a victory for good government."
The dispute was over the Governor's vetoes of so-called "headnotes" in the Long Bill, which are detailed definitions that directed the executive branch on how to manage funds. In 2002, the General Assembly filed suit to challenge the Governor's authority to veto the headnotes.
Today's court ruling vindicated the executive branch's use of the veto for headnotes: "The court finds the headnotes are an attempt on the part of the legislature to invade the executive's function in administering funds…. Having found that the headnotes are improper attempts to invade the province of the executive in administering the funds the court is entering a declaratory judgment in favor of the Governor's vetoes in this case."
Under the separation of powers doctrine enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, the legislature has the power to appropriate funds, and the executive has the power to administer them. The headnotes, which provided detailed instructions on the administration of funds, undermined the separation of powers principle.
Because of the broad constitutional issue at stake, this decision is considered the most important constitutional separation of powers case in Colorado in decades.
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