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KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, May 15) — The Palau Supreme Court
has declared that the version of the 2003 budget measure passed by the Koror
State Legislature is valid and effective.

The court also ruled that the State Legislature has the power to
override the erasures made by the House of Traditional Leaders.

In a 12-page decision, Associate Justice Larry Miller said Koror’s
lawmakers could override the line veto made by the House of Traditional Leaders
on the budget act.

The case stemmed from a budget dispute over the state government’s
fiscal year 2003 budget.

Gov. John C. Gibbons and the traditional leaders, relying on the
Palauan version of Article 6, Section 2 of the Koror State Constitution, claimed
that the House exercised its right to "smuld" or erase certain items
from the budget.

The legislature, relying on the English version of the State
Constitution, argued that the House exercised a "line item" veto that
lawmakers could and did override.

In late January, the legislature filed a lawsuit against Gibbons
and the traditional leaders for honoring the House version of the state budget
act and ignoring the lawmakers’ version.

The House version removed appropriations for CIP projects
amounting to $292,000 and other hamlet projects worth $50,000.

"The court believes that it is possible that the language
used in the Palauan version was intended to acknowledge the conceptual
differences between a line item veto and veto of an entire bill, but was not
necessarily intended to draw a distinction as to the legislature’s power to
override," the ruling said.

May 15, 2003

Story via Marianas Variety: 

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