The Newnan Times-Herald


Governor’s veto pen gets a workout

  • By Sarah Fay Campbell
  • |
  • May. 10, 2018 - 7:00 AM

Governor’s veto pen gets a workout

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a whopping 21 bills on Tuesday, the last day for the governor to sign or veto legislation passed in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session.

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a whopping 21 bills on Tuesday, the last day for the governor to sign or veto legislation passed in the 2018 Georgia General Assembly session.

Several of the bills were local legislation, including adding fees for Spalding County State Court, creating a charter for the city of Reynolds, changing the charter of the city of Stonecrest and providing governing authorities for Jonesboro, Morrow, Lovejoy and Lake City.

For some of those bills, the bill sponsors requested the veto. A bill that would annex the Fulton County Industrial District into the city of South Fulton was also vetoed. The FCID is the only remaining unincorporated part of Fulton County. It cannot be annexed because of a constitutional amendment from 1979, Deal stated.

Two bills that caused some controversy during the session were among those vetoed – House Bill 410 and Senate Bill 315.

HB 410 deals with condominium associations, homeowners associations and property owners associations. It provides a list of information that associations would be required to provide homeowners upon request and caps fees that could be charged for the information.

In his veto statement, Deal said the cap in HB 410 is lower than the ones in other states and may not be high enough to cover the cost of producing requested documents. And associations often contract with private parties to provide services.

“It appears that HB 410 could impose burdensome responsibilities on associations and their members and, regardless, absent sufficient justification, parties should generally be left alone to dicker the terms of their private agreements without government intrusion,” Deal said in the statement.

SB 315 deals with cyber security and would have created the crime of unauthorized computer access.

As technology continues to advance, "a robust discussion on cyber security policy that meets the needs of the public and industry stakeholders is of crucial importance,” Deal said in the veto statement.

The bill would make it a crime to intentionally access a computer or computer network without authority.

“However, certain components of the legislation have led to concerns regarding national security implications and other potential ramifications,” Deal said. “Consequently, while intending to protect against online breaches and hacks, SB 315 may inadvertently hinder the ability of government and private industries to do so.”

Deal said that more discussion is required before enacting cyber security legislation but that the work done during the session “provides a solid foundation for continued collaboration on this issue.”

Other non-local bills vetoed were:

• HB 795, which would subject the State Board of Worker’s Compensation to many of the requirements of the Georgia Administrative Procedures Act. It is currently exempt. The bill would have given the legislature significant control over worker’s compensation policy, Deal said in his veto statement. The bill “seems to undermine the policy objectives behind the creation of the state’s worker’s compensation system and circumvent the largely successful advisory council.” Deal stated he would encourage the legislature to focus on providing input through current law and board rules.

• HB 995, which aims to provide more transparency with respect to local government contracts with private consultants. Deal said the bill’s language was largely lifted from a standard contract used by the state to enter into consultant contracts and was not tailored to local governments. Deal said he fears copying the language will lead to varying interpretations and difficulty in fostering economic development. Additionally, the bill contains apparently unintentional language that says it only applies to state entities.

• SB 338, which modifies requirements for agency rulemaking under the Administrative Procedures Act and would have given the general assembly more time to override new or amended rules, and fewer regulations on doing so. The bill would cede power from the executive branch and slow the ability of the state to respond, Deal said.

• SB 342, which deals with expired vehicle tags and drivers who don’t put their renewal stickers on their tags. Under the bill, if someone renewed their vehicle registration tag before the court date on a ticket for expired tag, the fine would be lowered to no more than $50. Deal stated the legislation would diminish the deterrent value of expired tag enforcement, and is unnecessary given the leniency already provided by law.

• SB 357, which creates the Health Coordination and Innovation Council of the State of Georgia. The bill, “while well-intentioned, creates several unnecessary additional levels of government,” Deal said. The new governor who will be elected in November should be the one to shape his or her executive team, he said.

• HB 754, which would allow insurers domiciled in Georgia to divide into two or more insurers. Deal stated he is unaware of the need for the division process and is unconvinced that there are appropriate safeguards in the legislation.

• HB 354, which reconstitutes the Georgia International Maritime Trade Center Authority. The authority would have the ability to issue bonds, but Deal said he doesn’t have adequate executive and legislative oversight, and that the authority could have “theoretically unlimited bond capacity.”

• HB 441, which allows for the creation and use of self-settled spendthrift trusts, also known as self-settled asset protection trusts. Deal states that the trusts can allow beneficiaries to shirk creditors while preserving assets. He is not convinced such trusts are needed in Georgia.