Originally created 02/14/98

Senate rejects proposal

ATLANTA -- Senate Democrats tried and failed again Friday to give Georgia voters a chance to kill parole on the November ballot, while Senate Republicans called the vote election-year political posturing.

The resolution to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot to abolish parole failed to receive a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate.

The Senate rejected the same proposal almost two weeks ago after House Democrats and Republicans gave it bipartisan support in that chamber.

Friday's vote was 29-25. The resolution needed 38 votes to be placed on the ballot. Voting was mostly along party lines, although several Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure.

"I guess we can play this cat-and-mouse game all day long. But we are serious about putting before the people of Georgia an opportunity to abolish parole," said Senate President Pro Tem Sonny Perdue, D-Bonaire.

Both parties say they favor abolishing parole to force criminals to serve full sentences, but they have failed to agree on how to do it.

Most Senate Democrats want to let voters decide this fall whether to authorize the Legislature to determine in 1999 which crimes would fall under the no-parole mandate.

Republicans have proposed adding a list of crimes to the ballot question. They say anything less is meaningless.

"We are sending out verbiage that has no impact, no bottom line and no hammer," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Clay, R-Marietta.

Even though the issue appeared to be dead two weeks ago and failed again Friday, Mr. Perdue gave it new life. He got senators to agree to send the bill to a Senate-House conference committee to seek a compromise.


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