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Governor Sonny Perdue Vetoes Nineteen Bills

Monday, May 17, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Atlanta , GA - Governor Sonny Perdue today vetoed nineteen bills. At the conclusion of the 2004 legislative session, 338 bills were presented to Governor Perdue for review.

The following House Bills were vetoed: HB 183, 198, 267, 502, 923, 1162, 1394, 1451, 1512, 1652, 669, 739, 960, 1754, and 1831.

The following Senate Bills were vetoed: SB 423, 431, 449, and 604.

Summary messages for each vetoed bill are provided below.


House Bill 183           House Bill 183 addresses the issue of who can and who cannot "tattoo the body of any person... within one inch of... the eye socket of such person." It further would increase the penalty for a second violation of the prohibition against such tattooing to a high and aggravated misdemeanor, meaning the potential fine for such tattooing is $5,000. Because that high a criminal fine is out of proportion with the offense, I VETO House Bill 183.


House Bill 198           Among other things, House Bill 198 requires "[e]ach local board of education [to] adopt a policy providing for a code of ethics to govern members of the local board of education." For the second year in a row, and despite the hard work of many reform-minded members of both the House and Senate, the General Assembly failed to pass any ethics reform whatsoever applicable to the General Assembly itself. I remain firmly committed to reforming the ethics laws governing state elected officials, which, as I have so often pointed out, are among the weakest of any state in the nation. The General Assembly, having failed to pass ethics reform applicable to itself, has not earned the right to pass down a mandate for ethics reform applicable to local school boards; I therefore VETO House Bill 198.


House Bill 267          House Bill 267 lowers the maximum employee contribution rate for the Teachers Retirement System from six percent to five percent, and the minimum from five percent to three percent. Although I would not object to providing flexibility to lower the contribution rate below five percent, setting the maximum at five percent places an undue burden on the system's Board of Trustees and limits the system's ability to respond appropriately to adverse market conditions. We must protect the solvency of the retirement system for teachers. Those who served our students and our state for decades of their lives should not have their retirement put at risk. I therefore VETO House Bill 267.


House Bill 502            House Bill 502 would provide for future cost of living adjustments to the state grant appropriated for the compensation of juvenile court judges. Prior to 2000, Georgia counties were almost entirely responsible for funding the juvenile court system, including paying the salaries of juvenile court judges. During the 2000 Session of the Georgia General Assembly, the Legislature significantly raised the State's financial commitment to juvenile justice by passing a law that required a mandatory "grant" to counties to fund a juvenile court judge in each circuit at $85,000 per year. The State's intent with the enactment of that bill was to provide a maximum "grant" to local governments, not to assume full responsibility for funding salaries of juvenile court judges. Legislators and judges believed that counties would continue to support juvenile courts and supplement juvenile court judges' salaries.

The COLAs anticipated in House Bill 502 would be the first step toward a deviation from the maximum grant funding level the General Assembly approved in 2000. Juvenile Court judges play a vital role in our judicial system. As state policy changes increase judges' caseloads in the future, or if the General Assembly in a future session makes clear that it wishes to reverse the policy decision it made in 2000, I will revisit this issue. I VETO House Bill 502.


House Bill 923           House Bill 923 addresses a number of unrelated issues relating to the state's retirement systems. As a threshold matter, retirement bills deal with unique issues, and as such, should be considered individually as stand-alone bills as opposed to bills like House Bill 923 that logroll several disparate provisions together. I am particularly concerned about this bill adding yet another group of executive branch employees-this time administrative law judges-to the Judicial Retirement System, which was originally intended for elected judicial officials. I therefore VETO House Bill 923.


House Bill 1162          House Bill 1162 would enact the Ignition Interlock Device Providers Act, regulating the providers of such devices. No case has been made that such devices or their providers are in need of additional state regulation beyond that the judicial system already provides. The bill also contains an unrelated provision establishing and regulating rotation lists for auto towing services for government use. Absent a strong case demonstrating a need for additional state regulatory authority, I am not inclined to erect additional and complex state regulatory mechanisms. I therefore VETO House Bill 1162.


House Bill 1394           Among other things, House Bill 1394 eliminates an exception currently in the law that exempts elementary school and high school athletic trainers from licensing requirements. The Georgia School Boards Association and the Georgia School Superintendents Association have expressed concerns that this bill would place an undue burden on school systems, particularly smaller, less wealthy, and rural systems, to pay for extensive training and licensure of everyone involved in school athletics whose functions arguably might require licensure if this exception is removed. Because we should not impose such burdensome regulation on local systems without a compelling case that such regulation is vitally needed, I VETO House Bill 1394.


House Bill 1451           House Bill 1451 seeks to promote a laudable goal: that engaged couples seek professional premarital counseling prior to marriage. The bill increases the fee for a marriage license from $10 to $50 if the applicant couple has not completed a "qualifying marriage preparation program." Although I am wholly in support of the idea of premarital counseling, the bill seeking to codify this idea into law suffers from the following ambiguities and technical flaws. First, by specifying that for a member of the clergy to perform the qualified counseling, such clergy member must be "active." Retired members of the clergy should not be excluded from providing the required counseling, particularly given the many years of experience many such retired clergy members have. Second, the bill speaks to required "counseling," but requires that the "counseling shall include at least four hours of instruction." Because the term "counseling" is undefined, it is not clear whether the required "counseling" is cumulative of the required "four hours of instruction," or whether additional "counseling," falling outside the definition of "instruction," is also prescribed. Being unwilling to introduce uncertainty and vagueness into so fundamental a social institution as marriage, I VETO House Bill 1451.


House Bill 1512            House Bill 1512 would grant the Georgia Board of Chiropractic Examiners the authority to expunge records of certain disciplinary infractions by licensed chiropractors. The entire purpose of public disciplinary records of licensed professionals is to inform the public of infractions so that persons seeking to engage the services of professionals are apprised of any violations committed by professionals. Furthermore, it is not clear from this bill precisely what sort of infractions the Board could expunge. I therefore VETO House Bill 497.


House Bill 1652           House Bill 1652 would create a "Regional Commission on Homelessness." The functions and purposes of this Commission are duplicative of those of the Commission I have already created by Executive Order No., the "Georgia Interagency Homeless Coordination Council." I therefore VETO House Bill 1652.


House Bill 669           House Bill 669 is local legislation applicable to Clay County. The sponsor of this bill has requested that it be vetoed. I therefore VETO House Bill 669.



House Bill 739           House Bill 739 would change the Probate Courts Retirement Fund system in two ways: first, to allow a member to name a beneficiary other than a spouse; and second, to allow a surviving spouse to name a beneficiary other than himself or herself. The only other state retirement system allowing the first option is the Judicial Retirement System, and the members of that system contribute an extra 2.5 percent for spousal or other designee benefits, whereas House Bill 739 does not provide for any additional contribution by its members. It appears that no other system allows the second option. Further review is needed before granting these enhanced benefits to a single system. I therefore VETO House Bill 739.



House Bill 960          House Bill 690 is local legislation applicable to the City of Perry. The sponsor of this bill has requested that it be vetoed. I therefore VETO House Bill 960.



House Bill 1754           House Bill 1754 is local legislation applicable to the City of Griffin. The sponsor of this bill has requested that it be vetoed. I therefore VETO House Bill 1754.



House Bill 1831           House Bill 1831 is local legislation applicable to the City of Alpharetta. The sponsor of this bill has requested that it be vetoed. I therefore VETO House Bill 1831.



Senate Bill 423            Senate Bill 423 constricts the appointment authority of the Governor relating to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association in two ways: first, it requires the appointment of a botanist; second, it replaces the current requirement that one member "be a resident of the metropolitan Atlanta area" with a requirement that one member "be a resident of the Stone Mountain area [undefined]." If persons interested in the work of the Association desire the appointment to the Association of a botanist or someone living closer to Stone Mountain , I would encourage them to submit any such names for consideration to the Office of the Governor. Because the appointment power of the Governor should not be constricted in statute, however, I VETO Senate Bill 423.



Senate Bill 431            Among other things, Senate Bill 431 requires the Commissioner of Community Health to make various reports concerning the State Health Benefit Plan. Because this information is readily available to members of the General Assembly upon request, I VETO Senate Bill 431.



Senate Bill 449            Among other things, Senate Bill 449 enacts the "Soil Scientists Licensing Act of 2004." No case has been made that unlicensed soil scientists have posed a danger to the public. The Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Human Resources already regulate the soil quality issues relevant to the permitting of septic tank and wastewater and sewer systems. Absent a compelling case, I am unwilling to erect complex new regulatory schemes that create additional burdens. I therefore VETO Senate Bill 449.



Senate Bill 604           Senate Bill 604 would create a presumption that every public safety worker who is disabled by contracting hepatitis, HIV, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis has suffered such disability "in the line of duty," thereby entitling any such worker to disability benefits. If such a worker contracts one of the listed illnesses, it would be at best invasive and difficult, and at worst impossible, to rebut and disprove this presumption. The practical effect of this bill would be to extend disability benefits intended for injuries in the line of duty to every public safety worker who contracts one of the listed illnesses. I therefore VETO Senate Bill 604.