Virginia's Republican Gov. John N. Dalton disclosed on the eve of the General Assembly's veto session that he has come up with a strategy that may thwart efforts to override his vetoes.
Dalton told Republican legislators today that lhe doesn't plan to send the legislature any vetoes during its oneday session Saturday. Instead, he said, he will send amendments to objectionable bills, an action that his lawyers say will force the 140 legislators to vote once again on the measures.
By voting on the vills, Dalton's advisors said the legislature will be giving the governor another 30 days in which he can decide whether to sign the bills. Since the Assembly has no plans to recouvene later this year, that means Dalton is not likely to have to face the possibility of being overridden, the aides said.
Democratic legislators were not available tonight for comment on Dalton's strategy. The leadership of the overwhelmingly Democratic legislature has planned Saturday's session as a one-day opportunity for the assembly to either override Dalton's vetoes or to correct minor problems in legislation passed during the 45-day session that ended Feb. 24.
Under veto provisions of the state constitution, Dalton must sign any bills sent him by that date or see them become law without his signature.
One of the measures thought most likely to be vetoed will strip Republican Attorney General J. m/arshall Coleman of his patronage power to appoint private lawyers to represent the state in highway condemnation cases. Rather than risk an assembly override of his veto of the bill, Dalton told the GOP members of the legislature that he will send down an amendment that effectively neutralizes the bill.
Coleman, the frist Republican attorney general in the state's history, has angered Democrats and some senior highway department officials by replacing Democratic condemnation lawyers with Republicans.