The Associated Press April 16, 2012, 2:32PM ET

Kan. gov. vetoes banking bill to defend authority

Gov. Sam Brownback has vetoed a measure aimed at strengthening the Kansas bank commissioner's authority over concerns it would have stripped from the governor's office the power to hire regulatory staff and set their salaries.

Brownback's office announced the veto Monday, though it sent the veto message to legislators last week.

It's the second time this month the conservative Republican governor vetoed an obscure bill approved by the GOP-controlled Legislature with bipartisan support. The first measure revised state barbering rules.

Brownback objected to provisions granting the bank commissioner specific authority to hire an office manager, bank examiners and case managers and allowing the commissioner to set salaries for such employees without the governor signing off.

"The provisions ... unnecessarily impair the prerogatives of the executive branch and take away an important tool for the efficient and uniform management of the executive branch of state government," Brownback wrote in his veto message, which was dated Thursday.

However, Brownback said most of the bill represented good policy, and he urged legislators to approve a new version without the provisions he opposed. Other parts of the bill strengthened the commissioner's authority to punish violations of banking regulations and expanded the commissioner's power to compel testimony and gather documents as it investigates banks.

The bill cleared the Legislature last month by wide margins in both chambers, just before lawmakers began their annual spring break. Legislators reconvene April 25.

Bank Commissioner Ed Splichal's office sought more control over hiring and salaries, including the authority to set a salary schedule to keep the pay for examiners and other employees in line with those with counterparts in other states and the federal government. The Kansas Bankers Association backed the changes, even though higher regulatory fees could have resulted.

Splichal didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment, but Chuck Stones, the bankers' association president, was confident a compromise can be drafted to address the governor's concerns while making sure Kansas can retain good bank examiners.

"If other groups are picking off the good ones, we see real problems in the future," Stones said.

When Brownback rejected the bill on barbering regulations earlier this month, he criticized it as an expansion of state power over the economy. The bill would have required a few more ex-barbers and former barber-college instructors to take new licensing exams to return to those professions, but Brownback said he wanted to send a message that Kansas won't tolerate unnecessary burdens on free enterprise.

And last week, Brownback allowed another banking bill and a measure revising regulations for real estate appraisers to become law without his signature. He said he refused to sign them as a protest against states being "coerced" into making such changes by a 2010 federal law.


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