Kemp vetoes one of the county police vote bills


Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed Wednesday a Senate bill that would place a non-binding referendum on the ballot asking Glynn County voters whether they would prefer to see the Glynn County Police Department merged into the Glynn County Sheriff’s Office.

Senate Bill 504 was passed by both houses of the Georgia General Assembly earlier this year as part of a package of three bills that would allow registered voters in the county to abolish the GCPD.

Sen. William Ligon, R-White Oak, said Kemp indicated earlier in the day that he would sign the other two, placing the question in the hands of the electorate.

SB 38 gives the state the power to abolish a county police department, if the voters choose to do so, and SB 509 will place a binding referendum on the November ballot.

Wednesday was the deadline for the governor to enact new legislation, and any bills not explicitly vetoed by Kemp become law. Neither bill had been signed or vetoed as of 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“I’m glad the voters will be able to have a voice in how they want law enforcement to be governed in Glynn County,” Ligon said.

The bills came as the direct result of alleged police misconduct that led the city and county to scrap a joint narcotics enforcement team in 2019. Several past and present GCPD leaders have been charged with crimes in connection with the scandal.

Two of Glynn County’s three representatives in the state legislature, Ligon and Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island, sponsored the bills in their respective chambers.

Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, and most local elected officials opposed the bills, instead preferring to leave the authority in the hands of local leaders.

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