Science

Gov. Deal Challenges Critics Of Religious Exemptions Veto

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks at the bi-state Georgia/South Carolina water caucus meeting, Sept. 18, 2013. The caucus was formed by legislators from both states and includes agencies and stakeholder groups spanning the entire basin. USACE photo by Tracy Robillard.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal speaks at the bi-state Georgia/South Carolina water caucus meeting, Sept. 18, 2013. The caucus was formed by legislators from both states and includes agencies and stakeholder groups spanning the entire basin. USACE photo by Tracy Robillard.
Credit Tracy Robillard / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah, flickr.com/savannahcorps
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Gov. Nathan Deal called out lawmakers Wednesday who might try to block his legislative agenda next year after his veto of a controversial religious exemptions bill.

“For those who hold grudges, let me ask ‘em this: instead of having rhetoric, why don’t we have examples?” he said. “Nobody has ever, yet, provided me with one clear example of anything that has occurred in the state of Georgia that the RFRA bill [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] would have prevented.”

Some conservative Republican lawmakers, including state Sen. Mike Crane, have called Deal’s veto an example of a politician being bought by corporations and lobbyists, and tried to override the decision.

Republicans around the state passed resolutions last weekend at their congressional district conventions calling on Deal and the legislature to pass a measure to expand religious exemptions.

Deal’s priority in next year’s session will likely be education funding reform, which he says is “long overdue.”

“We’re still operating on the old formula that dates back to the 1980s, and almost everybody admits that it’s outdated,” he said.

Yet reforming the way the state pays for schools has so far been a big challenge for Deal.

“Although I have a difference of opinion with many in the General Assembly with regard to RFRA,” he said, “I think and hope that they would be big enough that they would look at every issue on its merits.”

Chris Carr, Georgia’s economic development commissioner, indicated Wednesday that Deal’s veto has helped the state’s reputation in the business world.

“Since Gov. Deal did what he did we have seen more opportunities for us from a business recruitment standpoint, tourism standpoint and in the entertainment field,” said Carr.