Originally created 05/02/00

Governor's pen vetoes eight bills



ATLANTA -- After vetoing only two bills since the General Assembly adjourned for the year, Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes on Monday axed eight bills and a resolution in a flurry of activity on the final day for gubernatorial action on this year's legislation.

The governor also deleted five line items from the $14.4 billion budget approved by lawmakers in March, including an allocation proposed by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, while signing a long list of bills. A Taylor-backed measure was among the eight vetoed bills.

Susan Lagana, Mr. Taylor's spokeswoman, said he wouldn't comment until he meets with Mr. Barnes. They have a 15-minute meeting scheduled for today.

Another casualty of the governor's veto pen was state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling. Mr. Brush led Senate debate in support of legislation legalizing ticket resales, commonly referred to as scalping, and was the chief sponsor of a bill reducing the consequences for violating Georgia's motorcycle helmet law. Mr. Barnes vetoed both measures Monday.

The ticket-scalping measure would have allowed individuals and professional brokers to buy and resell tickets, but brokers would have had to be bonded, licensed and regulated. Supporters said the bill would have made tickets available to fans who decided at the last minute to attend an event.

Mr. Barnes voted twice as a legislator to legalize ticket brokering only to see then-Gov. Zell Miller veto it.

Mr. Barnes said he was asked to stop this year's bill by officials from the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the Southeastern Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. In his veto message, he said he was concerned that sports teams would strike a deal with brokers to drive ticket prices out of the reach of ordinary consumers.

"I cannot countenance legislation which does nothing to enhance public access to events and will inevitably restrict our state's first-class sporting and cultural events to a privileged few," the governor wrote.

Mr. Brush said the bill was pro-consumer.

"This is a classic example of big money against the little guy," Mr. Brush said. "I'm not surprised that the governor went with the money."

None of the teams or leagues contacted Monday would comment.

Under the motorcycle helmet bill, riders failing to wear helmets or goggles would have been guilty of an equipment violation rather than a moving violation, the same as the seat belt law. As a result, violators could not have had points taken off their driving records.

In his veto message, Mr. Barnes argued that any lessening of consequences for offenders would encourage motorcyclists to stop wearing helmets.

"While some individuals may chafe under safety rules which protect lives, such laws are as important and as necessary as seat belt laws and speed limitations," the governor wrote.

Among budget appropriations eliminated by the governor was $1.75 million for an interactive educational exhibit at the Harriet Tubman Museum in Macon that was to be funded with lottery proceeds. The governor wrote that using lottery money for such a purpose would set a bad precedent when most of those dollars are dedicated to HOPE scholarships and the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Mr. Barnes deleted $1.5 million from the state's anticipated share of the national tobacco settlement, an appropriation sought by Mr. Taylor. Supporters wanted to use the money for block grants for local governments, but Mr. Barnes said it should go strictly to rural economic development.

Nearly lost among the bustle surrounding the vetoes was the fact that Mr. Barnes also signed more than 200 bills and nearly 75 resolutions.

Among the more controversial measures signed into law Monday were bills relating to the state's campaign-finance system and the tobacco industry.

Under the campaign-finance measure, candidates in state elections will have to file campaign-disclosure reports on the Internet if they reach certain fund-raising thresholds. The law also forces independent political committees to register with the state and file reports, and it mandates more frequent filing of campaign reports during non-election years.

The legislation drew fire from some public-interest groups because it will allow candidates in some races to double the amount they can raise per contributor.

Reach Dave Williams and Walter C. Jones at (404) 589-8424.

Vetoes

Among other legislation vetoed by Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes were measures that would have:

  • Given members of the General Assembly who previously rejected membership in the Georgia Legislative Retirement System a chance to reconsider.

  • Allowed several communities to issue bonds together through the state's Housing and Finance Authority, a bill supported by the lieutenant governor.
  • Authorized the Georgia Board of Corrections to accept gifts on behalf of the Department of Corrections.
  • Created the Joint Study Committee on Art Policies for the Capitol and the Governor's Mansion.