ATLANTA - After having to pay hundreds of dollars for legally sold Olympic tickets, state House members decided Friday it didn't make sense to throw people in jail for scalping sports or concert tickets.
The House tacked an amendment making scalping legal onto a bill by Rep. Tom Bordeaux, D-Savannah, that would have allowed charitable organizations to sell tickets at more than face value.
The House passed the amendment 112-46, and then approved Bordeaux's bill, 149-14, despite concerns that Gov. Zell Miller will veto the measure.
Miller killed a similar bill easing scalping laws in 1995.
The governor may get another chance this year, because Senate President Pro-tempore Sonny Perdue, D-Bonaire, said the bill has a good chance of passing his body as well.
Bordeaux's legislation would have allowed charitable groups to raffle or auction off tickets to benefit their organizations.
The scalping amendment was added by a bipartisan group including Reps. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs; Billy McKinney, D-Atlanta; Mike Evans, R-Cumming; and Roy Barnes, D-Mableton.
"I don't consider it scalping, I consider it free enterprise," Ehrhart said. "The basic idea of buying something and selling it for a profit is one of the earliest tenants of this country.
"(Ted) Turner can sell the ticket for what he wants, the Braves can sell a ticket for what they want - that's scalping. You want to talk about scalping, talk about paying $650 for a seat at the (Olympics) opening ceremonies. That's being scalped."
Rep. Alan Powell, D-Hartwell, predicted that even if the bill didn't pass, the state's current anti-scalping law could eventually be thrown out in court.
But Rep. Charlie Smith, D-St. Marys, argued changing the law would exacerbate the problem of professional scalpers buying up all the best tickets to an event and selling them to the public at inflated prices.
"I'm not sure we ought to be protecting somebody who knows somebody, buys a wad of tickets and doubles the price," Smith said.