GA: Gov. Perdue signs cable Bill

Posted on May 31, 2007 - 5:47am.

from: Access North GA

Perdue signs new laws, vetoes 41 bills

The Associated Press - ATLANTA

Gov. Sonny Perdue's veto pen got a workout on Wednesday.

Perdue vetoed 41 bills _ more than twice the number he rejected the year before. And the governor slashed more than $18 million in spending and bonds from the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"We have budgeted within our means and made sure to responsibly set aside money for the future while making sure our state grows today," Perdue said in a statement announcing he had signed the $20.2 billion spending plan.

Wednesday was the deadline for Perdue to act on legislation from the 2007 legislative session.

Among the bills vetoed by Perdue was one that supporters had said would keep illegal immigrants from getting behind the wheel in Georgia. The bill would have boosted penalties for driving without a valid drivers license and required jail officials to check the nationality of violators.

Perdue said that the bill might end up punishing new Georgia residents with valid out-of-state licenses. The bill's sponsor, state Sen. John Wiles, a Republican from Marietta, expressed disappointment, saying the measure "would make our roads and highways safer, more secure, and send a clear message to those who choose to repeatedly drive without a license."

Lawmakers have been anxiously waiting to see what Perdue would do with the $20.2 billion budget after the bruising battle over spending with House Republicans this year.

He didn't disappoint, using his line-item-veto power to strip out pet projects, some of them added by House members Perdue battled with. Gone was $633,685 for thee Golf Hall of Fame in Augusta sought by Rep. Ben Harbin, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee .

Perdue also made some members of the House GOP squirm on Wednesday as he waited until late in the day to announce that he had signed some pieces legislation they sponsored, such as one non-controversial bill that would create a board of elections in Paulding County. The bill was sponsored by Perdue's chief nemesis this year _ House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

The governor also signed a raft of bills on Wednesday. Among them were measures that would protect the southern end of Jekyll Island from development, boost cable television competition in the state and allow voters to decide whether they wanted to give developers the ability to set up so-called private cities.

Perdue said the Jekyll Island bill balances the need to revitalize the island on Georgia's coast while at the same time reinforcing the mandate that no more than 35 percent of the island be developed.

"Jekyll Island is a fantastic resource with so much unrealized potential for being one of the most popular destination vacation spots on the Atlantic coast," Perdue said.

Under the new cable law signed by Perdue, cable operators would be able to apply for a franchise through the state instead of having to go through the lengthy process of negotiating deals with individual counties and cities.

The measure was among the most heavily lobbied at the state Capitol this session, with AT&T leading the charge. The bill would make it easier for AT&T to debut television services to compete with cable providers. Consumer advocate say it could drive prices down.

"It's going to bring choice to Georgia," AT&T Georgia president Sylvia Anderson said.

AT&T, which purchased Atlanta-based BellSouth last year, was the largest contributor to Perdue's inaugural fund. The company forked over $200,000 to help pay for the governor's inaugural festivities in January.

The pair of private cities measures signed by Perdue had been highly controversial and only passed on the session's harried final day.

Under the bills, developers would have the power to assess residents fees for roads, sidewalks, sewer lines and other infrastructure improvements. Critics, including environmentalists, contend it would grant too much power to developers who wouldn't be held accountable to the public. Supporters said it could help spur economic development in struggling rural areas. The constitutional amendment must still be approved by a majority of voters at the polls next year.

Perdue also signed a bill to require school districts to place twins or other multiple siblings in the same classroom if the parent requests it. School districts had been permitted to make the decision.

The bill's sponsor, state Sen. Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock, said the new law will allow parents to have more control over their children's education.

The legislative session ended April 20. It was notable for the bitter power struggle between Perdue and Richardson, who locked horns over the supplemental spending plan for the fiscal year that ends June 30. Perdue first vetoed _ then reversed himself and un-vetoed _ the $700 million midyear budget, saying it failed to fund critical needs and contained a $142 million one-time property tax refund that the state could not afford. Perdue eventually vetoed only the tax refund.

( categories: AT&T | GEORGIA | State Franchises )