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Lawrence TVA bill is vetoed, Morgan’s OK’d

By M.J. Ellington
mjellington@decaturdaily.com · (334) 262-1104

MONTGOMERY — Moments before the end of the state House’s legislative session Thursday, Gov. Bob Riley vetoed Rep. Jody Letson’s TVA in-lieu-of-tax bill for Lawrence County.

Riley objected to wording that set up a commission to decide how to spend the money, said Letson, D-Hillsboro. The county’s legislative delegation, including Letson, would have appointed the commission.

Riley sent back the veto after the House had voted to end its last day of business, but before the gavel officially sounded to make the vote official.

But Riley signed Morgan County’s bill designating part of its 3 percent increase in Tennessee Valley Authority funds for a local office for the county’s legislative delegation.

“I was disappointed that the governor got involved in local legislation,” said Letson. “We had the votes to override the veto, but he got it here too late for us to do that.”

The Lawrence bill’s wording was similar to DeKalb County’s TVA bill, which Riley vetoed last week. Riley said that bill set up a way for DeKalb County’s delegation to get legislative pork. The House overrode Riley’s DeKalb veto earlier Thursday.

“I will continue to work to bring our TVA money home, whoever uses it,” Letson said. “The dry counties (not served by TVA) still get part of it.” He said his goal with the bill, which drew fire from county officials, was to build a nest egg to help attract industry to the county.

A smiling Rep. Bill Dukes, D-Decatur, who sponsored the Morgan County legislation, said he believes the governor liked the idea of a local delegation office.

The Morgan County law gives 60 percent of the increase in TVA revenue to the county’s general fund and to the county’s municipalities, and 40 percent to the legislative delegation’s local office. It mandates an annual audit of the office.

Rep. Micky Hammon, R-Decatur, said the governor’s office told him Thursday morning that Riley signed the Morgan measure. “He liked it that there was no commission,” Hammon said.

Hammon said he abstained when the House overrode Riley’s veto of the DeKalb bill. “I worked to get him to sign the bill that set up the increases last year,” Hammon said. “I know what we agreed to, and that did not include setting up commissions.”

Riley also vetoed TVA bills for Colbert and Lauderdale counties late Thursday. Lawmakers said they expected him to approve TVA bills for Madison and Marshall counties.

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