ATLANTA --- Georgia's Public Service Commission backed down from its decision to elect its own chairman and double the length of the post's term Tuesday after the state's top attorney said it had no authority to do so.
But a majority of the five-member body made it clear they would keep the debate alive by voting to table the issue rather than reverse it. The defiant trio said they are not bound by the attorney general's opinion and would again urge lawmakers to change the rules.
"It's not a reversal; we're just holding and waiting," said Commissioner Stan Wise. "We're saying, 'Fine, we'll wait for the Legislature.' Hopefully, they'll get it right."
The tactic drew more criticism from the other two commissioners, who lobbied their colleagues to undo last month's decision rather than simply voting to reconsider it. They said the move would only leave the panel, which regulates public utilities, in limbo.
"This is not just any opinion. It's an official opinion, and we need to take his advice seriously," said Commissioner Bobby Baker, who voted with Commissioner Chuck Eaton against tabling the motion.
The move comes a week after Attorney General Thurbert Baker concluded that the commission did not have the power to extend the term of the chairman from one year to two. He also said the panel couldn't replace a rotation system with one in which the body selects its own leader.
The opinion sent the commission's leaders scrambling to determine a response. Mr. Wise, who downplayed the attorney general's findings, said he supported a decision to reconsider the move to go beyond what he and others called a "distraction."