Some Bible backers hesitant about overriding veto

Some House members who voted yes on a bill making the Holy Bible Tennessee’s official book are hesitating about overriding ov. Bill Haslam’s veto of the measure, reports Andy Sher. His story lists at least four in that category — Democrats David Shepard and Johnny Shaw, along with Republicans William Lamberth and Steve McDaniel.

Overriding a Tennessee governor’s veto is relatively easy. All it takes is the same number of votes constitutionally required to pass a bill — 50 of the 99-member chamber. The Bible bill passed the House last year with 55 votes.

But while overriding a veto is easy in theory, it’s not often done.

“I wouldn’t vote to override the governor,” said Rep. David Shepard, D-Dickson, who voted for the bill last year and isn’t seeking re-election. “I trust what he’s doing. He’s obviously put a lot of thought in this.”

Senators passed the measure this year with 19 votes in the 33-member chamber.

…Shepard said Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, an ordained minister, has told him he also plans not to support overriding Haslam.

Asked where he is on overrriding Haslam, Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Powells Crossroads, the deputy House speaker, said, “I’m studying about it. I’m thinking about it. I voted for it and I’m thinking about it. It always has an impact when a governor vetoes” a bill.

Rep. William Lamberth, R-Portland, an attorney, who also voted for the bill last year, said he too is re-evaluating the measure in light of Haslam’s veto.

“It’s not really about whether the Bible can be a state book, it’s whether I want to vote to override the governor’s veto on this issue.”

See also Richard Locker, who outlines some of the procedural rules involved:

Under House rules, the House cannot act on the override attempt until at least 8 p.m. Tuesday — 24 hours after Rep. Jerry Sexton, R-Bean Station, announced on the House floor his intentions to resurrect his controversial bill.

It appeared briefly that Sexton would attempt to suspend the House rules in order to vote on the override attempt on the spot. That would have required a two-thirds vote of the House membership — at least 66 of the 99 House members. After a brief discussion with House leaders and clerks, Sexton said he would yield to the 24-hour rule.

The General Assembly is working toward adjournment this week and both the House and Senate are meeting long hours to work through their backlogs of bills. It won’t be known until late Tuesday whether the House will be in floor session on Tuesday evening or whether the override attempt will occur Wednesday.

Sexton expressed some concern that the Senate — where the Bible bill passed with only two votes to spare — could adjourn for the year before the 24 hours is up. The state constitution requires the House to act on a veto override first because it was the first of the two chambers to pass the bill.

However, if the House overrides the veto, the Senate could vote on the override immediately, with no public-notice delay.