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Perdue splits on gun bills

ATLANTA -- Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday rejected a bill that had drawn the ire of the nation's attorney general for proposing that guns be permitted in the nation's busiest airport.

Perdue vetoed the legislation that would have allowed permit holders to carry firearms into the non-federally regulated areas of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Perdue on Tuesday announced he had signed a separate bill letting permit-holders carry guns into some bars and parking lots.

But the airport measure had drawn the harshest scrutiny.

At a Capitol Hill hearing in May, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the proposed Georgia law ''very worrisome'' arguing that air travel remains an attractive target for terrorists. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduced legislation that would have overridden the Georgia law.

In his veto message Tuesday, Perdue acknowledged the ''unwarranted intrusion into this state matter by ill-advised federal officials.'' But he said it played no role in his decision to veto the bill. Instead, he said the other gun bill he signed into law clarified where Georgians may carry weapons in public places.

A legal battle has raged over whether those with permits should be able carry weapons in the publicly accessible area of Hartsfield. The courts have sided with airport officials who have said the terminal should remain a gun-free zone.

The Georgia bill's sponsor, state Sen. David Shafer, a Duluth Republican, said Tuesday that he's disappointed with the governor's veto.

Tuesday was the deadline for Perdue to sign or veto bills from the 2010 legislative session. It marks what is almost certain to be his final chance to make his mark on the legislative process. Perdue is to leave office in January after his second term expires.

This year's legislative session was marked by a bitter battle over the state budget.

Tumbling tax revenues forced state officials to hack hundreds of millions of dollars from an already lean state spending plan.

Perdue on Tuesday said he had signed into law the $17.9 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

He used his line item veto power five times to strike almost $12 million in bonds for five school and college construction projects. Perdue said the vetoes will save the state some $1.1 million in debt service.

All total, Perdue vetoed 28 bills, including a package of tax cuts designed to spur job creation.

Perdue had vetoed a similar measure last year fearing plans to slash the state's capital gains tax would have ripped a hole in the state's already shaky revenues. This year, Republican sponsors had included a trigger mechanism for the capital gains tax cut designed to make it more appealing to the governor. Under the new plan. the state would need to have $1 billion in its reserve fund for the tax cut to kick in.

But Perdue still wasn't buying it saying it could have an unpredictable affect on revenues down the road. In vetoing the bill, he said that many of the tax cuts in the package ''may have merit but also have substantial impact on future state revenues.''

Perdue also signed an ethics bill pushed by House Speaker David Ralston, who rose to power late last year after his predecessor was hit with allegations of an affair with a lobbyist. Ralston pledged to make strengthening ethics a centerpiece of his agenda this year.

The wide-ranging bill adopted Tuesday night requires lobbyists to disclose more frequently what they spend wining and dining lawmakers but places no limits on what they can spend. Local officials would have to file campaign finance disclosures with the state for the first time. And it boosts fines for lobbyists and officials who are late filing their required disclosure reports.