Georgia Gov. Kemp vetoes school safety plan, recess mandate

ATLANTA (AP) — Wielding the veto pen for the first time, Georgia's new Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has rejected 14 bills and resolutions passed by lawmakers.

The vetoes were announced ahead of the May 12 deadline for the governor to consider this year's raft of legislation.

Among the bills and resolutions vetoed by Kemp were proposals to enhance safety at public schools, mandate recess for kindergarten through fifth grades and create joint commissions re-examining boundary disputes with North Carolina and Tennessee.

Here is a look at some of the legislation vetoed by Kemp:

SCHOOL SAFETY

Kemp vetoed a proposal aimed at increasing school safety in the wake of mass shootings across the country, saying he worried the "well-intentioned" bill would create an "unfunded mandate" and undermine local control.

Among other provisions, the bill would have required that public schools in Georgia receive site threat assessments and conduct regular violence and terrorism response drills. It would have created the position of "school safety coach" and a smartphone app that students and others could use to report suspicious activity.

Kemp stressed that school safety was still a priority, noting the state budget allocates $69 million in school security grants to public schools and allows local leaders to decide how to use the money.

Last month, some Democratic lawmakers joined activists in delivering a petition to the governor's office urging him to veto the bill. It said vague language requiring schools to report suspicious incidents to authorities could lead to racial profiling and over policing.

RECESS FOR K-5 STUDENTS

Another measure vetoed by Kemp would have mandated that public schools schedule recess for all students in kindergarten through fifth grade every day.

The bill, which supporters have been working to pass for several years, recommends 30 minutes each day and specifies that local school boards should write policies to ensure that recess not be withheld for disciplinary or academic reasons.

Kemp said that while he supported expanded recess opportunities for students, he vetoed the bill because it stripped the ability for local school boards to make decisions that are right for their district.

"I am a firm believer in local control, especially in education," Kemp said in a veto statement. "This legislation would impose unreasonable burdens on educational leaders without meaningful justification."

JOINT BOUNDARY LINE COMMISSION

A resolution passed by the Georgia House and Senate this year would have created the "Joint Georgia-North Carolina and Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission" to take another look at the precise location of Georgia's border with those northern neighbors.

The goal is to amend "a flawed survey conducted in 1818 and never accepted by the State of Georgia erroneously marks the (boundary line) south of its actual location."

The only problem with the idea, Kemp points out in his veto statement, is that North Carolina and Tennessee haven't set up similar commissions to work with.

"Purportedly, the Commission would confer with counterpart commissions in North Carolina and in Tennessee on boundary line disputes. At this time, however, North Carolina and Tennessee have not created boundary line dispute commissions," Kemp's statement said.