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Wednesday May 23rd, 2018 6:39PM

Governor faces deadline to sign or veto legislation

By Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) Georgia's governor has only a few days left to decide whether to veto or sign the remaining bills sent to him by the state legislature.

By law, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has 40 days to veto a bill or sign it into law, a deadline that ends Tuesday. The governor can also decline to do either and let a bill automatically become law without his name attached.

The state budget, a transit expansion plan and a measure that bans drivers from holding a cellphone are major pieces of legislation Deal has already signed into law. But the governor has yet to weigh in on a number of controversial bills, including one that would carve a new city of Eagles Landing, in part from the existing city of Stockbridge, and another that would criminalize unauthorized computer access.

The term-limited Deal, who is likely considering his final round of legislation as governor, also has yet to make a determination on bills that expand access to medical marijuana oil, allow victims of domestic violence to break a housing lease and keep lottery winners anonymous.

Here is a look at some of the legislation Deal still has to consider:

SPLITTING UP STOCKBRIDGE

Deal's pen is one of the last remaining hurtles standing in the way of the city of Stockbridge being carved in two.

A proposal before Deal would incorporate the new city of Eagles Landing, including some land that's currently in Stockbridge.

Residents pushing for the new city say they are driven to get better city services, increase property values and attract high-end businesses.

But opponents, including several Stockbridge officials, say that the move is racially motivated and point to language about ``demographics'' used to justify the split.

Stockbridge, approximately 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta, is predominantly black, while Eagles Landing would have a greater proportion of white residents.

If Deal signs the legislation, voters in the area that would become Eagles Landing would need to approve the idea before the new city is formed.

ONLINE SNOOPING

Deal is considering a bill that would criminalize unauthorized computer access, a bill opposed by Google and Microsoft that also has received strong condemnation from Georgia's booming cybersecurity industry.

The 1.5-page bill would make intentionally accessing a computer or network without authorization a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison.

Deal's office said he was reviewing the legislation as he does with all other bills, and he has not publicly indicated a stance on the issue.

Proponents say the bill is designed to give law enforcement the ability to prosecute ``online snoopers'' hackers who probe computer systems for vulnerabilities but don't disrupt or steal data.

The legislation follows the recent discovery by unauthorized independent cybersecurity experts of a vulnerability in the computer network where Georgia's elections are managed.

A group of more than 50 cybersecurity experts wrote Deal recently urging him to veto the bill. They say it creates new liabilities for security researchers who identify and disclose weaknesses to improve cybersecurity.

Georgia has become an important cybersecurity industry hub, ranking third in the nation in information security business and generating more than $4.7 billion in annual revenue, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Georgia could widen access to medical marijuana oil if Deal signs a bill adding post-traumatic stress disorder and intractable pain to the list of ailments it can be used to treat.

The bill would also create a study commission to look at access to the low-potency medical marijuana oil that can be prescribed in Georgia.

A legal limbo currently exists in the state where patients can legally possess the drug, but it cannot be manufactured here.

Proponents say that adding PTSD and intractable pain to the list will help steer veterans and others away from addictive opioid painkillers.

Deal last year approved an expansion of the state's medical marijuana program to include autism, AIDS, Tourette's syndrome and Alzheimer's disease.

ESCAPING ABUSERS

Deal has yet to take final action on a bill that advocates say would help victims of domestic violence escape their abusers.

Under the proposal, anyone who has received a domestic violence order in criminal or civil court proceedings would be eligible to terminate a residential lease without penalty.

Proponents say victims who are trying to escape a dangerous home should not have to worry about such fees.

A tenant would still need to provide a landlord with a written notice at least 30 days before breaking the lease.

ANONYMOUS WINNERS

Those who win a big lottery jackpot could soon be able to remain anonymous under a bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal's signature.

Under the measure, those who win at least $250,000 and submit a written request can prevent their name from being publicly released. Proponents say the law is needed to protect people's privacy because lottery winners can be prime targets for everything from scams to violence.

The proposal has been criticized by open-government advocacy groups, who say it is a bad idea to allow the government to hand out millions to private citizens without a public record. 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics
  • Associated Tags: legislation, Nathan Deal , Governor Nathan Deal , Gov. Nathan Deal , 2018 legislative session , veto, laws
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