ATLANTA (AP) On what was likely to be his final day of considering legislation as Georgia governor, Nathan Deal vetoed 21 bills and signed many more into law, including a controversial bill that could see the city of Stockbridge carved in two.
The term-limited Republican governor had until the end of Tuesday to veto or sign any remaining bills into law. In Georgia the governor also has a third option: Decline to do either and let a bill automatically become law without his name attached.
Deal had already signed major legislation like the state budget, a transit expansion plan and a measure that bans drivers from holding a cellphone.
Among the bills vetoed Tuesday were a proposal to cap fees a homeowners association could charge homeowners for information and another that aimed to make contracts between local governments and private consultants more transparent.
Deal also vetoed a bill criminalizing unauthorized computer access after receiving blowback from the state's booming cybersecurity industry.
The bill would have made it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail to intentionally access a computer or network without authorization.
It was 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.
But critics, including Google and Microsoft, urged Deal to veto the bill. They said the bill would have created new criminal liabilities for researchers who disclose weaknesses to improve cybersecurity.
Deal said the legislation could have inadvertently hindered organizations from protecting themselves against hacks.
Deal signed into law a measure that would allow victims of domestic abuse who have received a court order to break a residential lease without penalty. On Monday he signed a bill allowing lottery winners with prizes over $250,000 to remain anonymous upon request.
Deal also signed one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to cross his desk this year: a set of bills that could split the city of Stockbridge in two by creating the city of Eagles Landing.
Two proposals signed by Deal allow the new city of Eagles Landing to incorporate and revise the boundaries of Stockbridge to carve the wealthy enclave from its borders.
Voters in the area that would become Eagles Landing still must approve the idea before the new city is formed.
Residents pushing for the new city say they are seeking to get better city services and increase property values.
But opponents say the move is racially motivated and could financially cripple Stockbridge.
Stockbridge, approximately 20 miles southeast of Atlanta, is predominantly black, while Eagles Landing would have a greater proportion of white residents.
Critics say the new law sets a precedent that could allow affluent communities across the state to create their own towns.