Georgia gov issues first slate of vetoes, rejecting high-profile education bills

Georgia gov issues first slate of vetoes, rejecting high-profile education bills
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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) issued his first vetoes of his tenure Friday of two high-profile education bills.

Among the legislation vetoed Friday was a bill that would have required elementary schools to hold recess every day and another would have made the public school system update its safety plans and conduct safety drills in grades K-12. 

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Kemp first came to national prominence last year after a high-profile gubernatorial election in which he narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in an election marred by allegations of voter suppression. He defended his education vetoes by suggesting local school districts should have more power over their own policies.

He said he agreed that recess should be expanded for elementary school students, but said in his veto statement he is a “firm believer in local control, especially in education” and couldn’t support the bill. 

“This legislation would impose unreasonable burdens on educational leaders without meaningful justification,” he wrote.

He similarly said the school safety legislation was “well-intentioned” but amounted to an “unfunded mandate” from the state.

“The State will continue to invest in the safety of our children by working closely with local officials, parents, and students to ensure a safer, stronger Georgia,” he wrote.

Kemp nixed 15 bills overall in his first opportunity to wield his veto pen, also axing legislation to mandate a fiscal analysis before lawmakers could vote to extend tax breaks and a bill that restored Georgians’ right to sue the government over laws deemed unconstitutional.

The Georgia Republican had already signed the legislative session’s most high-profile bills into law, including sweeping changes to election rules in the state, expanding Georgia’s medical marijuana program and restricting abortion access.