The Georgia General Assembly is back in session. We are required to be here for 40 days – like Noah in a cramped space full of animals or Jesus in the desert being tempted by the Devil. Whoever decided on 40 days based it on scripture. Day 1 is usually ceremonial and non-controversial. Not today!
The House started off just where we left off last year and voted to override 12 of Governor Perdue’s 2007 session vetoes. Georgia has only overridden vetoes once before in history – 34 years ago – and it was Governor Jimmy Carter so nobody cared. Our Founding Fathers created a delicate balance of power that allows a veto and also permits a supermajority of the legislature to decide that the Governor is “wrong”. Sometimes the Governor is right and the bills have mistakes or are more costly than the legislature assumed. Sometimes the legislature (with a lot of backbone) votes for popular bills that they know are bad bills, but hopes the Governor vetoes them. Sometimes, the legislature is right and an override is appropriate.
Georgia’s Constitution says that the Senate must “immediately consider” the actions of the House today. Lawyers and parliamentary manuals agree that “consider” doesn’t mean “vote”. So the Senate assigned all 12 bills to the Senate Rules Committee where we can carefully review each bill along with the Governor’s veto message. We will not act in anger or emotion. The Senate will deliberate carefully and hopefully make wise decisions. We want to solve problems with traffic, water, and health care. We do not want to pick at old scabs without good cause. The Speaker claims the Senate “shirked” its responsibilities today. I say we did exactly what we were sent here to do – to carefully and thoughtfully decide which actions benefit the people of Georgia.