Politics

Ga. Senator Calls For Override Of Religious Exemptions Veto

Georgia Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, speaks out in favor of a bill restricting abortion coverage in plans available through the state health insurance exchange on the Senate floor, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Atlanta. State senators voted 35-18 to advance the bill, which now heads to the House for consideration. The federal health care law allows states to draft legislation prohibiting abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange. Supporters of the Georgia effort say 24 states have done so. Democrats opposed the bill, calling it a continuation of a "war on women" and saying it infringes on a woman's right to choose. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Georgia Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, speaks out in favor of a bill restricting abortion coverage in plans available through the state health insurance exchange on the Senate floor, Monday, March 3, 2014, in Atlanta. State senators voted 35-18 to advance the bill, which now heads to the House for consideration. The federal health care law allows states to draft legislation prohibiting abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange. Supporters of the Georgia effort say 24 states have done so. Democrats opposed the bill, calling it a continuation of a "war on women" and saying it infringes on a woman's right to choose. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
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Georgia Republican Sen. Mike Crane wants the Georgia Legislature to reconvene to override Gov. Nathan Deal’s Monday veto of a bill that would allow religious nonprofits to deny services to same-sex couples and gay parents.

“The announcement by Governor Deal is another example of how the political class is bought and paid for by corporations and lobbyists,” said Crane, who is also a candidate for U.S. Congress, in a statement posted on his website Monday morning. “This fight is not over. Today I am calling for a special session to override the Governor’s veto and protect the First Amendment rights of law abiding and hardworking voters throughout this state.”

Major businesses, such as Disney and Microsoft, as well the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Hotel and Lobby Association, called for Deal to veto the measure.

Crane’s call for a special-session veto override would likely require significant political maneuvering. It would require three-fifths of both the Georgia House and Senate to sign-on to the effort. The actual override vote would require a two-thirds majority in both chambers.

When the bill passed the Georgia House, it fell 16 votes short of a two-thirds majority, and four votes short of a three-fifths majority, with a number of Republicans voting against the measure.

In the Georgia Senate, the measure passed with only one vote shy of a two-thirds majority. Based solely on the Senate’s previous vote on the religious exemptions bill, there would be enough lawmakers to call for a special session, but the effort would still need the House to join.

“The Governor shall convene the General Assembly in special session for all purposes whenever three-fifths of the members to which each house is entitled certify to the Governor in writing, with a copy to the Secretary of State, that in their opinion an emergency exists in the affairs of the state,” reads the Georgia Constitution. “The General Assembly may convene itself if, after receiving such certification, the Governor fails to do so within three days, excluding Sundays.”

Republican House Speaker David Ralston’s office declined to comment on the calls to convene a special session.

“I respect Governor Deal and the thoughtful consideration he brought to this discussion. I know his choice to veto this measure was not easy,” Ralston said in statement.

Throughout debate over the legislation, Ralston said the bill protected the free exercise of religion, and included “clear anti-discriminatory” language.

“It is regrettable that the merits of this measure have been ignored in the days since its passage by critics who had not taken the time to read the bill or understand the legal issues involved,” he said.

Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle also released a statement:  

“An important and legitimate concern has been largely lost in the hyperbole and criticism surrounding this debate: our state can and should take an active role in protecting the right of individuals to practice their faith without government interference. I’ve always advocated for Georgia’s status as the number one state to do business, but as we move forward I will never lose sight of the importance of an individual’s right to practice their faith. This principle will continue to guide my actions going forward.”

Cagle’s office did not immediately respond to questions about a potential bid to override Deal’s veto.