- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

RICHMOND Virginia's General Assembly overturned two of Gov. James S. Gilmore III's vetoes yesterday, capping off a day in which the Republican majority agreed to spend more time on the redistricting process and showed interest in getting a budget deal done.
The House overrode the governor's veto of a bill that reclassifies which state agency oversees accountants and a bill that eases the process for some types of charitable gambling, in which the proceeds go to the charity. It takes a two-thirds vote to overturn vetoes, and the Senate had already voted Wednesday night to override the governor.
The Senate voted to override the governor on all six of the Senate bills Mr. Gilmore vetoed, but the House upheld his veto on four of them. The House also upheld the governor's veto on one House bill.
After officially adjourning the 2001 session, the House opened a special session in which it will redraw the district lines for state House and Senate seats, based on new population numbers from the 2000 Census.
The Republican majority in both houses first agreed to Democrats' request to push the timetable back a few days and hold public hearings Monday throughout the state on the proposed redrawn maps.
Hearings were held last weekend before Republicans had released their plans and maps, and Democrats demanded new hearings now that the plans are public.
Both houses will finish work on their own plans in the middle of next week, then swap those plans with each other for final approval. The maps are available on the Web (https://dlsgis.state.va.us/).
Also yesterday, there was minimal movement in both houses toward calling a special session to resolve the budget impasse.
The assembly adjourned Feb. 24 without passing amendments to the two-year budget it approved last year, with the two houses stalling over the size of this year's car-tax rebate. That meant the rebate stayed on schedule at 70 percent, as the House and governor wanted, but the governor had to cut $421 million from the budget to close a deficit.
No new budget also meant no salary increases for public employees like teachers, state workers, deputy sheriffs and college faculty and no funding for many cultural and historical attractions in the state.
Delegate Phillip A. Hamilton, Newport News Republican, yesterday presented an entirely new budget that keeps the car-tax rebate intact at 70 percent this year, freezes it at 70 percent next year unless the economy grows significantly more than predicted, and funds raises and many cultural attractions.
The budget also funds many of the social services and public safety needs that senators had demanded.
"From where we are today, I think this budget proposal is significantly better if it gets passed than what we face" in the governor's cuts, Mr. Hamilton said.
Several senators key to the budget negotiations said they hadn't seen the plan's specifics, but they said any plan that gets them to the table is a good start. House members also seemed eager to negotiate, with 55 of the 100 members Republicans and Democrats signing on as co-patrons to the bill by yesterday evening.
Mr. Gilmore said he welcomed the proposal and, though he hadn't seen the specifics, he said he could sign a bill that gave a 70 percent rebate this year and froze it there next year because he could always adjust next year's number in his final executive budget.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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