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GA Gov Defies Party With Vetoes        05/04 06:15

   ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia's Republican governor rejected the two top 
priorities of a legislature controlled by his own party this year, defying 
election year politics in a deep red state.

   Gov. Nathan Deal, in his second and constitutionally limited final term, 
vetoed legislation shielding opponents of gay marriage just days after the 
close of the legislative session in March. But he waited until Tuesday, the 
last possible day to issue vetoes, to block another bill that would have 
allowed people over 21 and with state permits to carry concealed handguns on 
college campuses.

   Both proposals were popular with the majority of Georgia's Republican 
lawmakers. But opponents aggressively lobbied Deal to block the measures.

   The state's business community, with help from giants like Apple, the Walt 
Disney Co. and the NFL, mobilized against the religious exemption bill. The 
state's powerful Board of Regents, which oversees the university system, and 
all 29 of its campuses' presidents and police chiefs opposed the so-called 
campus carry measure.

   In both cases, Deal offered lengthy, written veto messages, relying on legal 
precedents. And in both cases, he concluded that the bills weren't necessary in 
Georgia.

   On Tuesday, he referred back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison opposing 
guns on the University of Virginia campus and to writings by recently deceased 
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He concluded that "no justification 
exists" to allow firearms into "sanctuaries of learning."

   In March, he discussed the cases of business owners in other states 
objecting to providing services for same-sex weddings but said no examples "of 
the things this bill seeks to protect us against" existed in Georgia.

   It's not clear how the contentious decisions will shape Deal's relationship 
with the legislature. Supporters of both bills already vow to return with 
similar proposals next year.

   Deal will lead the state through the end of 2018 and plans to focus on an 
overhaul of education in Georgia, including the state's method for funding 
schools.

   Deal's decision to kill the gun bill isn't a complete surprise. After it 
passed the legislature, he asked members to pass follow-up bills addressing 
concerns about access to on-campus day care centers, spaces where high schools 
students can take college-level courses and where disciplinary hearings are 
held. They declined, saying the original bill was carefully considered.

   Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said he was disappointed by his fellow 
Republican's veto, but added that it's not the end of the discussion.

   "At a time when our Second Amendment rights are under attack, I believed and 
still believe that it is very important that we do all that is necessary and 
proper to strengthen our constitutional protections," he said in a written 
statement. "Georgians should not be required to give up their constitutional 
rights when they set foot on a college campus."

   The National Rifle Association was one of the premier lobbying groups behind 
the bill, and voiced their disapproval of the veto in a statement Tuesday.

   NRA spokeswoman Catherine Mortensen said the measure would have made Georgia 
campuses safer for Deal's constituents.

   "The NRA is thankful to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and the legislators who worked 
to protect law-abiding citizens' constitutional right to self-defense on campus 
and we look forward to working with them next session to pass this important 
safety legislation," Mortensen said.

   Nine states have laws on the books allowing concealed handguns on campus: 
Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, Utah and 
Wisconsin. According the National Conference of State Legislatures, 23 states 
leave the decision to ban or allow weapons up to the individual colleges and 
universities, and 19 states --- still including Georgia --- ban concealed 
weapons on campuses.

   Democrats credited students, faculty and other opponents with helping defeat 
the "ill-advised" measure.

   "Georgians stood together to work toward making our campuses safer 
environments," said the state Democratic party's executive director, Rebecca 
DeHart.


(KA)

 
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