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What the governor vetoed
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Gov. Deal last week issued nine vetoes of legislation passed by the Legislature during the past session. This, most likely, ends the pathway of these bills because the legislature over the years has rarely overridden the governor’s veto. In addition the governor line-item vetoed a number of bond projects. Unlike the federal budget process, the governor has line-item veto power in Georgia.

Governor’s vetoes

SB19 - There is a long history of the regulation or lack of it for amusement machines you see in convenience stores and in some eating establishments. This bill attempted to provide clarity in this regulation but apparently expanded the ability of operators to award gift certificates of value to winners. The bill also addressed “internet café” sweepstakes. The governor’s veto message indicated that this legislation really would have expanded this type of gambling.

SB 158 - There are at least two levels of indemnification for state law enforcement and some state employees who are killed or permanently injured while performing duties. A separate bill, HB156 brought state highway employees killed in the line of duty on the highways to the same level as law enforcement personnel. SB 158, on the other hand, broadened the definition of “dependent” or who could receive the indemnification. This bill removes any restriction as to the dependence of a family member on the income of the deceased or injured employee. The governor’s veto message stated he felt this bill strayed from the original purpose of indemnification — the aid of those directly dependent on the employee’s income.

SB 86 - Local governments have long chafed over various reports and plans required by state law especially when the plans or reports don’t appear to be utilized. SB 86 ended the requirement for the promulgation of these plans as a prerequisite to a community receiving “Qualified Local Government” status. The governor in his veto message stated that the Department of Community Affairs was working to meet the intent of this legislation. You will likely see this legislation again.

SB 96 - Changes the definition of “Peace Officer” as it appears in the Georgia Annotated Code relating to the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund. This bill was vetoed at the request of the author.

SB 140 - This bill started out to increase the bonding limit of the Georgia Higher Education Facilities Authority from $300 million to $400 million. This is the vehicle by which most college dorm facilities are built today. The projects stand on their own and the proceeds from rents and other revenue streams repay the bonds which carry no obligation of the state involved. SB140 was amended to include the expansion of the authority of the World Congress Center Authority to issue bonds and removed any limitation on the amount. The governor objected to the removal of the limit on bond issuance by the WCC Authority and thought it brought “operational risk.”

SB 163 - This bill attempted to address the purchase of campaign communications that do not clearly show who is paying for the communications and whether a candidate is authorizing the ads. The governor refers to federal Court decisions on free speech and political advertising. His veto message states that there is vagueness in the definitions of political advertising and persons or groups sponsoring the communications. Apparently advertising mediums also objected to this legislation.

HB 226 - This column recently included information on this legislation that created individual development accounts with the intent of helping developmentally disabled individuals to form these custodial accounts which would be outside normal income levels affecting federal or state benefits eligibility. The governor’s objection in his veto message is that the accounts were not limited to persons with disabilities and that the criteria for expenses that could be paid for out of the accounts were not limited or even defined specifically.

HB 489 - Would have prohibited the state from engaging a Medicaid recovery audit contractor to be compensated solely from a percentage of recoveries. The governor’s veto message asserts that federal law mandates that a contingency type recovery program be implemented and used. So this bill if it became law might jeopardize federal Medicaid funding.

HB 602 - This was a local bill affecting only Bacon County that created a one-member board of elections in conflict with state law.

Next week: Governor’s bond vetoes

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