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Folsom vows full debate over Riley's veto

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom Jr., criticized by some Republican senators for his handling of a vote on a legislative pay raise, said Tuesday the Senate will have extended debate over Gov. Bob Riley's promised veto of the raise.

"On the issue of the pay raise, the issue will be before the body for a recorded vote and there will be full, open debate. Every senator will be able to talk as long as they want to," the Democratic lieutenant governor said.

The Senate and House passed the 60 percent pay raise on unrecorded voice votes Thursday. Folsom, the Senate's presiding officer, took the vote while several Republican senators were raising their hands and calling for a roll call vote that would record how each senator voted.

On Tuesday, the Senate's first meeting day since the pay raise vote, a few Republican senators complained about Folsom not recognizing the requests for a recorded vote.

"I was very disappointed in my friend, the lieutenant governor," Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Jasper, told the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Zeb Little, D-Cullman, defended the lieutenant governor from Cullman, saying he is fairer than many previous lieutenant governors.

After the exchange, Folsom told the Senate: "I want to assure all senators there will be full, open, extended debate on all issues of importance to them for the rest of the quadrennium."

In an interview after the Senate adjourned, Folsom said he was trying to calm the Senate with his comments.

"Some senators felt that they raised their hands and weren't recognized. I never saw their hands come up. It was a quick motion and the Rules chairman had the podium, and you have to recognize the chairman. And so, there is some concern there and I've tried to allay those concerns — just to let them know that there will be full and open debate on all issues in the future — the same course I established in my prior term," he said.

Gov. Bob Riley said Monday he considers the pay raise excessive and will veto it. But he won't send the veto back to the Legislature until March 20, the last possible day, because he said he wants to give legislators plenty of time to reconsider their actions.

Overriding the governor's veto will require a recorded majority vote of the full House and Senate.

If the override vote is successful, the Legislature will receive its first pay raise since 1991, when Folsom was also lieutenant governor.

Members' basic pay for a year with no special sessions would go from $30,710 to $49,500, and their pay would rise in future years by the amount of the Consumer Price Index.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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