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Georgia governor set to sign several bills, but others could face veto

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal will kick off a five-city tour Wednesday to sign into law a string-of high-profile measures.

But this is also the time of year when Georgians find out what legislation the governor rejects.

The Republican, in his final year in office, has until May 8 to make up his mind. He’s expected to roll out a wave of vetoes that day after showing little aversion to nixing legislation in past years.

The poll by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs was conducted April 19 to April 26. Each of the 507 respondents indicated they had voted in the 2014 or 2016 Republican primary and that they would likely vote in the May contest. The margin of error is 4.4 percentage points.

He vetoed nine bills last year, including a foster care measure that had widespread legislative support. And he rejected the two most consequential bills of the 2016 session: a campus gun measure and a “religious liberty” bill.

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He’s under intense pressure to veto a pair of measures over the next week.

Several major tech corporations have urged him to veto Senate Bill 315, which would create a new crime of “unauthorized computer access” by outlawing so-called “white hat” hacking by researchers who then report weaknesses to companies so they can shore up their security.

And Stockbridge officials have threatened litigation if he signs a measure that would carve out a section of the city to create a new municipality called Eagles Landing.

Among the other critics of the measure is Capital One’s public bonding arm, which owns the majority of $14 million in outstanding bonds owed by Stockbridge and warned Deal that the legislation could create “unprecedented risk” for firms that hold municipal debt in Georgia.

The most consequential of the measures he will sign Wednesday is the $26.2 billion budget, which will include full funding of the k-12 school formula for the first time since 2002.

Deal also plans to sign a measure that would restrict drivers from handling their cellphones or other electronic devices while behind the wheel. The Legislature saw intense lobbying for the bill during the session from public safety advocates and the families of victims who died in distracted-driving accidents.

Over the next week, he’s also set to sign a legislative compromise that could lead to a dramatic expansion of mass transit in metro Atlanta by allowing 13 counties to impose a sales tax of up to 1 percent for mass transit.

He’s poised to approve legislation that would loosen requirements for cash bail and give local authorities more leeway to issue citations for nonviolent crimes. It was the final part of Deal’s years-long effort to overhaul the prison system by shifting more nonviolent offenders to treatment programs.

And he seems likely to put his signature on a measure that would let local voters approve whether restaurants and wineries that serve food can begin alcohol sales at 11 a.m. on Sundays — 90 minutes earlier than the law now allows.

Deal has signed few pieces of legislation so far, though some of the highest-profile bills are among them.

He signed a measure to update the state’s decades-old adoption law after it was stripped of a controversial provision. And he put his OK on a tax-cut measure, though only after lawmakers removed a lucrative tax break he sought for Delta Air Lines.

Stay on top of what’s happening in Georgia government and politics at PoliticallyGeorgia.com.

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