0115LEGISListen as Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle discusses Monday's vote to override Gov. Sonny Perdue’s vetoes of 12 bills.
Last week, Gov. Sonny Perdue, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson toured the state in what was billed as a "Unity Tour," to tout their common positions on education and water.
Any remaining signs of unity were erased Monday as members of the Georgia House of Representatives sent a stinging rebuke of Perdue’s vetoes of a dozen bills.
In a rarely used move, the House voted overwhelmingly to override Perdue’s veto of bills that included tax breaks for new tourist attractions, a new amphitheater for the Atlanta Symphony and more nature centers. One proposal would have simplified the process for disabled children to apply for physical therapy, while another would have required each state agency to provide fiscal reports to lawmakers.
"In some ways, it’s not a normal course of action," said House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter of the overrides. "But the General Assembly feels passionate about it."
The overrides must still win two-thirds approval by the Senate before they can take effect, and Richardson urged the chamber not "to play a game," and immediately consider it as the state constitution requires.
But Cagle has a very different interpretation, citing Senate rules, which follow Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure as the source on procedural matters. According to Mason’s, "consideration" in the context of an executive veto can include an immediate vote, or the matter may be "returned to committee or laid on the table."
Cagle sent the House veto overrides to the Rules Committee, where Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville, said they would be considered by his panel.
"We need to look and see what the House did," Balfour said. "We need to be deliberate."
Following adjournment, Cagle said there was no schedule for taking up the vetoes.
"The speaker has some very strong emotions, and those emotions were shown today," Cagle said. "I’m very concerned that this is a distraction. If we’re not careful, veto overrides will dominate the session and all that we’ve talked about over the past few weeks is going to the back burner."
Cagle called the action "petty politics."
Local state Reps. James Mills, Carl Rogers, Doug Collins and Tommy Benton joined the majority in voting for the overrides.
State Rep. Amos Amerson, R-Dahlonega, who also voted for the overrides, said the House was sending a message to the executive branch.
"We are re-exercising our rights," Amerson said.
Perdue’s office said there was no "groundswell of support" for any of the measures, and argued that they aren’t in the state’s best interest.
"Today’s actions are yet another example of House leadership insisting on making a statement rather than making the state better," said Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley.
Monday’s votes were the latest remnant of a bitter feud within the state’s Republican party that erupted after Perdue vetoed the $700 million midyear budget in the final days of last year’s session.
The governor’s veto galvanized House leaders, who rallied colleagues to demonstrate the independence of the legislative branch. An irritated Richardson accused Perdue of showing his "backside" and called it a "sad day for Georgia."
In the closing hours of last year’s session, the House voted to override Perdue’s veto of the plan, but Senate leaders refused to follow suit by claiming the move was unconstitutional. Perdue later reversed the veto.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.