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Statement from Attorney General Clark on Governor’s Veto of H.645, an Act Relating to the Expansion of Approaches to Restorative Justice

June 5, 2024

Attorney General Charity Clark issued the following statement in response to Governor Scott’s veto of H.645, an act relating to the expansion of approaches to restorative justice.

“Let me be clear: I support H.645. The Governor’s veto message rightly points out that H.645 does not include requested funding in this fiscal year’s budget. It fails, however, to note that the effective date of the relevant sections of this bill is a year away. The funding requested for this year’s budget was to create a position within my office to assist with transitioning the pre-charge program from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to my office in advance of the effective date, July 1, 2025.

Throughout the session, my office has been a close partner to the Legislature on this bill. We have been clear that a position for the coming fiscal year is preferred; however, especially in light of the important policy objectives of the bill, we have determined that we have the bandwidth to do the preliminary preparation for the transfer of this program. I appreciate the Governor’s concern. But I am best positioned to determine the capabilities of this office I know so well. So, while I agree that the lack of a position would be problematic in the long term, lack of funding at this moment, in this year’s budget, should not be a barrier to enactment of this bill. Moreover, our understanding is that the Legislature simply ran out of time to adequately address this issue this session but can take it up next year.

Going forward, to transfer the pre-charge program from DOC to my office, expand services from just a few counties to statewide, ensure consistent and quality programming, track outcome measures, and meet the reporting requirements, a position will be needed. For these reasons, if the Legislature votes to override the Governor’s veto – and I hope it does – my office will work with DOC and the Legislature next session to sort out the appropriate approach to addressing the issue. I can certainly envision, for example, our office requesting a budget adjustment. In addition, our FY 2026 Court Diversion budget will need to include an appropriation for grant funding, as envisioned by the bill.

Again, I support H.645, and I have believed for years that my office is the most appropriate home for the pre-charge program.



CONTACT:   Amelia Vath, Outreach and Communications Coordinator, 802-828-3171