ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal issued veto statements on Tuesday for nine bills this term, ranging from one that would repeal the creation of the Fulton County Industrial District to another that would permit physicians to delegate the authority to prescribe hydrocodone compounds to physicians' assistants.
In the statements, Deal noted varying reasons for his vetoes, which reflected his overall beliefs regarding the direction of the Legislative leadership.
House Bills 131 and 132 relate to the repeal of the constitutional amendment creating the Fulton County Industrial District, then annexing the property into the newly formed City of South Fulton.
The land comprising the Fulton County Industrial District remains the only portion of the county that remains unincorporated at this point, however, the land comprising the district cannot be incorporated or annexed due to a pre-existing amendment to the state constitution and subsequent legislation.
Ongoing debate between the cities of Atlanta and South Fulton continues regarding the ownership of the land, so the governor vetoed HB 131 and HB 132 until a final disposition can be reached regarding the ownership and true disposition of the land.
HB 174 was a bill which would expand the types of payment allowed under insurance policies to include "general use gift cards," but since the value of a "general use gift card" cannot be turned into cash legally, there was little recourse but for the governor to veto the legislation.
HB 359 was a bill that created a power of attorney to allow parents and 'agents' to go around the confines of legal adoption and the child welfare system without oversight, rather than reform the existing system. Gov. Deal felt the leadership of both chambers should work together with the supporters of the legislation and the child welfare advocacy community to strengthen the existing system and streamline the process of adoption so that children may reach permanency more rapidly.
HB 425 created opt-out procedures for existing statewide assessments in the state's school system. Comparing this legislation to a veto of similar legislation a year ago, Deal said local school districts already have the flexibility to determine opt-out requirements and procedures for students who cannot or choose not to take the statewide assessment examinations.
HB 439 and HB 440 together de-annexed two parcels of land from the city of Atlanta and annexed them to the city of Sandy Springs, but Deal said he didn't feel they received the proper amount of discussion and consideration during the legislative session.
SB 125 authorized physicians to delegate their authority to prescribe hydrocodone compound products to physician's assistants. With the major concern regarding the abuse of opioids, Deal felt it necessary to keep a tighter rein on that authority.
Finally, SB 222 would create the Local Government 911 Authority, and make significant changes to the fee collection and disbursement process for local public service answering points. The authority would be a quasi-independent authority with little oversight from or coordination with the state. Deal says the bill's language states the executive director and staff would be appointed July 1, 2017, but fees wouldn't be collected to fund the authority until July 1, 2019 -- leaving a two-year period with no funding for the authority or its staff.
Deal says that the 911 reform process is necessary, and says he does plan, by executive order, to establish a local government 911 authority housed at GEMA, but given the additional constraints, he is vetoing SB 222.