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Senate approves first veto override in 34 years

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POSTED: February 12, 2008 5:02 a.m.

ATLANTA (AP) - The state Senate slapped fellow Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue with a rare rebuke on Monday, approving Georgia's first veto override in 34 years.

The Senate voted 47 to 7 to approve the override, one of 12 the House passed on the opening day of the session. The bill is a relatively minor piece of legislation that would officially create separate House and Senate budget offices in the state Legislature.

Far more important was the signal it sent.

"It's historic," state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson, a Savannah Republican, said. "Once the barn door is open it's hard to shut it again."

Georgia's ruling Republicans talked of unity in advance of their return to the state Capitol. But that image shattered soon after the opening gavel sounded. Defiant House Republicans, still angry over Perdue's liberal use of his veto open in the closing days of last year's session, rushed to override a dozen of the vetoes.

The state Senate put on the brakes, assigning the overrides to the Rules Committee, which has sat on them for the last two weeks.

That changed on Monday, when the committee passed out the lone override unanimously.

Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour, a Snellville Republican, said the chamber could still take up additional overrides. He provided no timetable for doing so.

"I think this is going to be the only one we're going to take up right now," Balfour said.

State Sen. Steve Thompson, voted for the override but said he was worried about the "gamesmanship" at work.

"We should not ever try to micromanage the state," Steve Thompson, D-Mableton.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle issued a statement immediately after the vote in which he stressed that the Senate had given the measure "thoughtful and appropriate consideration."

"While we respect the office of the governor, the Senate agreed it was important that the language in this bill reflect the role the Senate budget office plays in providing valuable assistance to the Senate throughout the budget process," Cagle said.

There was no immediate comment from Perdue.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press
 

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