HB 600 Vetoed
By Valerie J. Morgan
Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday (May 8) that he vetoed HB 600, which proposed term limits for the mayor of Stonecrest, while permitting council members to remain in office for an unlimited number of terms. Additionally, the bill would have removed the mayor’s voting power with the five-member City Council, except in the case of a tie.
The governor said he rejected HB 600 because there was no consensus among the DeKalb County Delegation members who represent the city of Stonecrest. One of the delegation members, State Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams, did not sign off on the bill.
“These amendments to a city charter that has been in effect for less than two years have not, apparently, received the proper amount of discussion during the legislative session as legislators from the delegation could not reach a consensus. For this reason, I VETO HB 600,” Deal said in a news release.
City officials and others had been awaiting the decision, which would have immediately amended the city’s charter. The governor’s veto came as the city turned a year old this week.
Adrion Bell, the city of Stonecrest’s communications director, said he welcomed the governor’s veto. He said the bill would have unfairly punished the office of mayor.
“It would have caused an imbalance of power on the council. I don’t know of any governor or mayor who has neither a vote nor a veto,” said Bell.
With the governor’s veto, both, the mayor and City Council members will remain in office for unlimited terms under the existing charter. The mayor also will still have a vote on the City Council.
State Rep. Doreen Carter, District 92, introduced the bill in March 2017. The bill initially included revising the city’s voting districts, along with term limits for the mayor and modifying provisions related to a quorum on the City Council. Amendments were made as the bill moved from the House to the Senate last year and it gained bi-partisan support this year.
Carter said despite the governor’s rejection of the bill, she believes it could have offered a resolve for some of the issues with the tie votes that have occurred recently with the City Council.
“They have no way to break a tie the way it stands right now,” said Carter. “That’s why most voting organizations have odd numbers—whether it’s a board or a city. That was the whole reason for proposing the bill in the first place.
Attorney Bernie Knight, who has worked closely with the formation of the new city applauded the governor’s decision.
“The veto of this ill-considered bill was vital to the future of Stonecrest. We offer heartfelt thanks to the Governor,” Knight said.
House Bill 600 amends the Charter of the City of Stonecrest by providing term limits for the mayor of Stonecrest while expressly permitting councilmembers to remain in office for an unlimited number of terms. Additionally, the bill removes the Mayor’s power to vote with the City Council, except in the case of a tie. These amendments to a city charter that has been in effect for less than two years have not, apparently, received the proper amount of discussion during the legislative session as legislators from the delega-tion could not reach a consensus. For this reason, I VETO HB 600.
State Rep. Doreen Carter introduced the bill in 2016 to revise the city’s voting districts, along with term limits for the mayor and to modify provisions related to a quorum on the city council.