By Maria Saporta
It’s the governor’s prerogative to change his mind.
Between 8 a.m. Friday morning and early afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal went from saying that he was undecided about signing the controversial immigration reform bill to saying he would sign it.
After speaking to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Pacesetter breakfast at the Cobb Galleria, Deal said he wanted to take a close look at the bill before deciding whether he was going to sign the bill that passed at the very end of the 2011 session.
“It was so jumbled at the end as to what was added and what was taken out,” Deal said. “We are going to look at it very carefully.”
But it did not take Deal very long to make up his mind. By mid-day, Deal had given at least two interviews — the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WXIA-TV — saying that he was planning to sign the bill.
For many in the business community, Deal’s apparent change of heart was a disappointment.
There is growing concern that the immigration bill will backfire against Georgia’s hospitality sector and agricultural industry. Business leaders also are worried that it will give Georgia a black eye when it comes to trying to attract international investment and major conventions and sporting events.
In recent weeks, a host of Georgia executives and industries have expressed concern that the bill would have serious economic consequences.
Even Muhtar Kent, CEO of the Coca-Cola Co., told Deal that the immigration reform legislative could be bad for Georgia’s economic climate.
“He was concerned about the image it would have,” Deal said. “He didn’t want Georgia to be considered as a state that was unfriendly to business.”
Deal added that he believed the General Assembly also was sensitive to those concerns.
In the governor’s breakfast talk, he made a point of saying that he wants to do all he can to make Georgia a business-friendly state.
But given the anticipated fall-out of the new immigration legislation, Deal will have a harder time convincing the business community that he really understands the cost that the state is about to pay.