Deal vetoes private probation, state health insurance plan, Brookhaven bills


Yesterday was the deadline for Gov. Nathan Deal to decide what bills passed during the 2014 legislative session would become law. For the past few weeks, the governor has scheduled a litany of bill signings across the state. This week, he approved measures that would strip him of his sole authority to expand Medicaid, require drug testing for some welfare recipients, and install a statue of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Gold Dome's grounds.

But the governor also decided to veto 10 bills for various reasons. Most notably among the nixed legislation was a controversial law that would have allowed private probation companies to keep their records secret from the public and tack on extra fees. And because the Department of Community Health is leading efforts to give state employees multiple health-insurance options, he rejected a similar measure that originated in the Georgia Senate.

We've included Deal's full list veto, along with his rationale behind those decisions, after the jump:

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Veto Number 1
SB 281: Senate Bill 281 would require that the State of Georgia offer a specific type of health insurance product in the state health insurance plan. The Department of Community Health has announced the plan to procure additional product offerings for the state health insurance plan which closely mirrors the general intent of this legislation. I agree with the author of this legislation that the state health insurance plan should include additional options, particularly options that are consumer-driven. However, to avoid any problem with the new product offerings not specifically conforming to the rather specific requirements set out in this legislation, out of an abundance of caution, I hereby VETO Senate Bill 281.

Veto Number 2
SB 326: The original as filed Senate Bill 326 was amended with language providing additional daily expense allowance for the members of the State Personnel Board, the State Transportation Board, the Veterans Service Board, the Board of Natural Resources, and the State Board of Education. Current law sets the daily expense allowance for members at $105. This bill increases the board members' daily expense allowance by sixty-seven percent. Given the lack of justification provided for such increases in the board members' daily expense allowance, I hereby VETO Senate Bill 326.

Veto Number 3
HB 670: Currently, business trade names are housed and accessed in the Superior Courts of our state. This bill would create a statewide registry of business trade names to be housed and maintained by the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority. Several provisions of this legislation are concerning. This legislation would effectively increase taxes on small businesses by raising trade name registration fees and would add new fees for canceling or reregistering existing trade names. I also have significant concerns about the language in the bill which attempts to dedicate these fees for a specific purpose. For these reasons, I VETO HB 670.

Veto Number 4
HB 729: Georgia's existing Title Ad Valorem Tax law ("TAVT"), enacted March 1, 2013, eliminated the "birthday tax" and substituted it with a one-time payment upon the transfer of the vehicle title. I support the main effort of this bill, which sought to ensure there was no gaming of the vehicle trade-in valuations during the purchase and trade-in of a used car. However, the inclusion of the language regarding a lease finance company being eligible for a trade-in reduction at the end of a leased term significantly changes the trade-in definition. Current law states that local governments must receive a base amount and the first recalibration of the disbursements is Jan. 1, 2016. The first recalibration of the state target collection is July 1, 2015, which will determine if the tax rate requires a change. The negative effects of the lease provision on the state and local collections would be addressed in both recalibrations. I am vetoing this legislation because I believe it is too soon to implement a law that adversely affects revenue, thus, leaving the state of Georgia TAVT taxpayers in a more unstable position as the split between the state and local governments share of this revenue. Accordingly, I VETO HB 729.

Veto Number 5
HB 769: House Bill 769 changes the description of education districts in Schley County. The author of the legislation requested that House Bill 769 be vetoed because qualifying has already occurred under the existing districts. If the districts were to change after qualifying, it would incur a large cost on the Board of Education and on the taxpayers. Having reviewed the legislation and considered the request of the author of this legislation, I VETO HB 769.

Veto Number 6
HB 837: House Bill 837 provides updates and certain expansions to the role of private companies in the administration of probation services in Georgia. There is language in this legislation that would exempt certain key information about private probation services from the Georgia Open Records Act. I favor more transparency over private probation services and therefore I am not in favor of this information being exempt from the Georgia Open Records Act. In addition, it is my understanding that the Supreme Court of Georgia has under its consideration an appeal that would address the role of private probation services and, while the current law pertaining to private probation services remains in effect, this legislation seeks to have a preemptive impact on any decision in that appeal. With these considerations in mind, I VETO House Bill 837.

Veto Number 7
HB 858: House Bill 858 authorizes the Recorder's Court of Columbus to levy up to a $25 technology fee to each fine imposed. In 2013, I signed legislation authorizing the Recorder's Court of Columbus to levy up to a $15 technology fee. A $25 fee is excessive compared to similar court fees across the state and I am concerned that such a fee increase would set an unacceptable precedent for other similar courts. For this reason, I VETO HB 858.

Veto Number 8 and 9
HB 905 and HB 906: House Bills 905 and 906 are bills that update the territorial boundaries for the City of Brookhaven and the City of Chamblee. Currently, there is pending litigation involving the property at issue in this legislation and this legislation could pre-empt that process. For this reason, I VETO HB 905 and HB 906.

Veto Number 10
HB 1146: House Bill 1146 would allow state funds appropriated to the Effingham County Board of Education to be used for the compensation of board members. Current state law and current rules of the State Board of Education dictate that compensation of local board members be through local tax revenues. Past local legislation affecting school board compensation does not include language which name state appropriations as an appropriate fund source. Because state appropriations are not an appropriate source for local board of education compensation funding, I hereby VETO House Bill 1146.

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