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Legislature


Georgia 2018: Rick Jeffares joins race for lieutenant governor

It’s been whispered about for a while now, but state Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, has filed paperwork to run for lieutenant governor. Jeffares, first elected in 2010, is chairman of the Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee and a member of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. A small business owner, he is a former Locust Grove city manager and Henry County commissioner...


Georgia would be vulnerable if feds made deep cuts

Georgia would be vulnerable if feds made deep cuts

While President Donald Trump’s budget plan is unlikely to gain approval, any cutbacks in Washington could have a major impact on services in Georgia. Home to eight major military installations, Georgia could be a major beneficiary of any increase the Trump administration proposes in military spending. Cuts to nonmilitary spending, however, could be big for the Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for...
Police honored for swift work recovering stolen voting equipment

Police honored for swift work recovering stolen voting equipment

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp honored law enforcement officers Tuesday during a ceremony at the state Capitol for their work recovering voting equipment stolen last month. The theft happened days before the April 18 special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, when four electronic poll books were stolen from a Cobb County precinct manager’s car. The equipment is typically...
New council promises results, seeks patience in helping rural Georgia

New council promises results, seeks patience in helping rural Georgia

Members of the newly minted state House Rural Development Council heard a litany of challenges facing the rural parts of Georgia on Monday, as local officials, economists and experts tallied the woes. Rural Georgia is aging rapidly. It is losing population and jobs, it lacks infrastructure and it often struggles to educate its youth. House leaders promised answers but said they won’t come...
Rural council promises results, asks for patience

Rural council promises results, asks for patience

House Speaker David Ralston on Monday said rural Georgia can’t afford to wait for the next election to find progress and solutions. “Rural Georgia cannot wait on political seasons to come and go because they will always come and go,” the Blue Ridge Republican told the first meeting of the House Rural Development Council. “I refuse to allow any personal ambitions to get in the...
Problems of rural Georgia easy to find, difficult to fix

Problems of rural Georgia easy to find, difficult to fix

The summer before he graduated high school in 1963, Hasan Hanks helped build what he was certain was the future of his little town on Georgia’s southwestern edge. The Walter F. George Lock and Dam was near completion and would soon form a 45,000-acre lake, with 650 miles of prime shoreline property, and generate enough electricity to power 58,000 homes. “I was a kid then, but I had a vision...
Voter registration ends this weekend in Georgia’s 6th District

Voter registration ends this weekend in Georgia’s 6th District

Voter registration in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District ends Sunday, following a judge’s order earlier this month extending the registration deadline in metro Atlanta’s northern suburbs. The deadline comes as voter registration groups have tried to make the most of the extension, going door-to-door in some neighborhoods as well as hosting registration tables at area...

Georgia Republicans remember Roger Ailes’ impact

Doug Chalmers was 24 and working on his first political campaign in 1988 when he first met Roger Ailes, the veteran GOP operative and Fox News founder who died this week. It was a U.S. Senate campaign and Chalmers and others were in Ailes’ New York office in February. “All of a sudden a staffer comes in and says, ‘Mr. Ailes, you have a phone call,'” Chalmers, now one of...
Superintendents attack scholarship tax credits as ‘profitable’ for rich

Superintendents attack scholarship tax credits as ‘profitable’ for rich

Rich donors can make money by funding scholarships for Georgia’s private schools, says a national group of public school leaders in a new analysis of scholarship and voucher programs. The national School Superintendents Association, which opposes the tax-based tuition subsidies because they leave less money on the table for public schools, published the report Public Loss, Private Gain...
This week’s state Senate runoff may have just broken a Georgia record

This week’s state Senate runoff may have just broken a Georgia record

The 32,673 people who voted in this week’s state Senate runoff may have just broken a turnout record for special legislative runoffs in Georgia. No other similar legislative runoff has had more voters, according to state records going back to 1996. The closest came in 2011, during a runoff between former Macon City Council President Miriam Paris and former state Rep. David Lucas. ...
Watchdog: 6th District runoff latest skirmish in voting rights war

Watchdog: 6th District runoff latest skirmish in voting rights war

These past two weeks have been great for shareholders in the clipboard industry as an army of volunteers canvassed Georgia’s 6th Congressional District registering voters ahead of the June 20 runoff between Republican Karen Handel and Democrat Jon Ossoff. The last-minute push for new voters came as a result of a federal lawsuit brought against the state by a coalition of civil rights groups...
Election results: Kay Kirkpatrick wins Georgia state Senate runoff

Election results: Kay Kirkpatrick wins Georgia state Senate runoff

Republican Kay Kirkpatrick cruised to a win Tuesday night against Democrat Christine Triebsch, according to unofficial results in a runoff to represent parts of Cobb and Fulton counties in the state Senate. The outcome was cheered by Republicans, who hope Kirkpatrick’s success foreshadows a win for GOP congressional candidate Karen Handel over Democrat Jon Ossoff next month in a hotly...
Kirkpatrick wins runoff for Georgia’s Senate District 32

Kirkpatrick wins runoff for Georgia’s Senate District 32

Georgia’s attention has been focused on the 6th Congressional District, but a state legislative race is buoying Republican hopes a month before that nationally watched June 20 runoff. With all precincts reporting Tuesday night, Republican Kay Kirkpatrick won the duel with Democrat Christine Triebsch in a runoff election to represent parts of Cobb and Fulton counties in the state Senate...
Georgia Republicans work on health care overhaul

Georgia Republicans work on health care overhaul

Some Georgia leaders have looked away from the turmoil in Washington this week to work on the Republican health care replacement plan. Testimony from Georgia State University experts this week showed serious issues to tackle. Just a couple of examples:Small businesses are crucial for the economy but terrible as a source of health insurance. When you break down Georgia households by the size...
Georgia governor broadens scope of investigation into DeKalb sheriff

Georgia governor broadens scope of investigation into DeKalb sheriff

Governor Nathan Deal signed a revised executive order Tuesday that calls for an investigation of DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann, who was arrested for allegedly exposing himself in a park and running from police. Deal’s new order addresses concerns raised by Mann’s attorney, who said last week the alleged city ordinance violations by Mann don’t amount to...
Runoff today in Cobb, Fulton for Georgia Senate District 32

Runoff today in Cobb, Fulton for Georgia Senate District 32

Update: With most precincts reporting Tuesday night, Republican Kay Kirkpatrick had a sizable lead over Democrat Christine Triebsch in a runoff election to represent parts of Cobb and Fulton counties in the state Senate. Original story: Voters in Cobb and Fulton counties today will decide the northern suburbs’ other runoff election -- one that will send someone to represent the area...
Georgia GOP lawmakers push health care overhaul

Georgia GOP lawmakers push health care overhaul

Efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act may face an uncertain future in Washington, but for many Georgians health insurance is a problem that needs immediate attention. Some Georgia lawmakers are trying to move ahead in spite of the uncertainty. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s state senate health care task force heard testimony Monday about hundreds of thousands of Georgians who lack any...
Atlanta mayoral candidate Fort pushes city council on marijuana reform

Atlanta mayoral candidate Fort pushes city council on marijuana reform

State Sen. Vincent Fort on Monday implored the Atlanta City Council to move forward on a proposal to eliminate jail time and reduce the fines for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in Georgia’s capital. “It is a gateway drug to mass incarceration, mostly of young African Americans,” said Fort, who is running for mayor of Atlanta and has advocated to decriminalize marijuana...
Democrat, Republican face off Tuesday in runoff for Senate District 32

Democrat, Republican face off Tuesday in runoff for Senate District 32

Although Georgia’s attention has been focused on the northern suburbs’ 6th Congressional District, the area’s other runoff election will be held Tuesday to represent parts of Cobb and Fulton counties in the state Senate. Democrat Christine Triebsch and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick are facing off a race that has appeared surprisingly competitive, after Triebsch topped an eight-candidate...
One last push with a week left to register voters in Georgia’s 6th District

One last push with a week left to register voters in Georgia’s 6th District

Voter advocacy groups are making one last big push to register voters in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, ahead of a newly mandated deadline this coming Sunday. A federal judge’s ruling earlier this month has sparked a rush of activity. Registration booths have popped up everywhere from high schools to grocery stores. The campaigns, too, are targeting new voters ahead of the...
New poll has Ossoff, Handel neck-and-neck in 6th District runoff

New poll has Ossoff, Handel neck-and-neck in 6th District runoff

A new poll out Sunday shows Georgia’s high-profile runoff for the 6th District congressional seat remains a dead heat. Florida-based Gravis Marketing released the results of a new survey that shows Democrat Jon Ossoff leading Republican Karen Handel 47 percent to 45 percent with just more than a month left before the June 20 runoff. Ossoff’s advantage is within the poll’s 3.3 percentage...
Gov. Deal signals approval to spend more to deepen Savannah River

Gov. Deal signals approval to spend more to deepen Savannah River

SAVANNAH — Governor Nathan Deal said Friday he supports providing additional state resources to finish the deepening of the Savannah River, and he expects the federal government to fulfill its promise to fund its share of the nearly $1 billion project. Speaking to reporters after a welcoming ceremony for the Cosco Development, the largest container ship to ever call on an East Coast port...
Federal sentencing rollback veers away from path Georgia has taken

Federal sentencing rollback veers away from path Georgia has taken

Even as Gov. Nathan Deal was signing the latest batch of state laws designed to keep lower-level offenders out of prison, the Trump administration was preparing a crackdown seeking the toughest possible charges against offenders convicted of nonviolent drug violations. The U.S. Justice Department released directives Friday that call for more mandatory minimum sentences and direct prosecutors to pursue...
Today’s your last chance to vote early in Cobb, Fulton for state Senate race

Today’s your last chance to vote early in Cobb, Fulton for state Senate race

Early voting ends today for parts of Cobb and Fulton counties ahead of Tuesday’s runoff to replace former state senator Judson Hill. Democrat Christine Triebsch, a family and juvenile attorney, and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a retired orthopedic surgeon, are the two candidates on the ballot. Both were the top two finishers from among eight candidates vying for Hill’s former state...
Trump’s order on churches may have unintended consequences

Trump’s order on churches may have unintended consequences

A lobbyist for Southern Baptists in Georgia is cheering President Donald Trump’s move to roll back a 63-year-old ban on churches’ direct involvement in political campaigns. Mike Griffin, lobbyist for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, the state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the federal tax law that bars churches and ministers from direct campaigning...
New wildlife refuge will help protect Georgia state reptile

New wildlife refuge will help protect Georgia state reptile

A new wildlife management area in south-central Georgia now offers thousands of acres of protected habitat for the state’s threatened state reptile, the gopher tortoise.  The Department of Natural Resources announced this week the purchase of more than 3,000 acres in Wheeler County to create the Alligator Creek Wildlife Management Area.  The $3 million deal helps protect what...
Watchdog: Does Trump executive order free ‘bullied’ pulpits?

Watchdog: Does Trump executive order free ‘bullied’ pulpits?

Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order following up on campaign promises to loosen restrictions on churches’ involvement in politics and chipping away at a 63-year-old federal ban on endorsements from the pulpit. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” Trump said the day of the signing, which corresponded with the National...
Gov. Deal vetoes Fulton Industrial vote, annexation into South Fulton

Gov. Deal vetoes Fulton Industrial vote, annexation into South Fulton

Gov. Nathan Deal has vetoed two bills that would have let Fulton County residents decide whether the last unincorporated part of the county would be part of the new city of South Fulton. In a statement, Deal said there has been “continued debate” between Atlanta and South Fulton about who should get the district, which has 46 million square feet of industrial space and a workforce...
Georgia governor’s foster care veto dredges up ‘religious liberty’ fight

Georgia governor’s foster care veto dredges up ‘religious liberty’ fight

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed legislation Tuesday sought by foster care advocates, a move that dredged up a bitter fight over “religious liberty” that has long polarized the statehouse and seemed to thwart another initiative championed by the Republican and his allies. The governor and his aides said his veto of the bill, which passed the Legislature by an overwhelming margin, had nothing to...
Deal endorses domestic terrorism bill

Deal endorses domestic terrorism bill

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Monday a bill that expands the state’s domestic terrorism laws and creates a registry of information about unauthorized immigrants. Dubbed the “Protect Georgia Act,” House Bill 452 requires the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to publicly post information about unauthorized immigrants who commit certain crimes. The new law also contains language from...
Rural Georgians receive tax credits under newly signed law

Rural Georgians receive tax credits under newly signed law

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a hotly-debated $60 million tax credit into law Tuesday that was criticized by opponents from both sides of the aisle as a giveaway to corporate interests but praised by supporters as a boon to struggling rural communities. Sponsored by state Sen. Larry Walker Jr., a Republican from Perry, SB 133 was advertised as a booster to more sparsely-populated parts of the state in need...
Georgia governor signs bill to increase salary of next governor

Georgia governor signs bill to increase salary of next governor

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Tuesday that will increase the salary of his successor by 25 percent. House Bill 202, sponsored by state Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, sets the next governor’s salary at $175,000, up from the $139,339 that the chief state executive now earns. The new law goes into effect in 2019, meaning Deal will not be eligible to benefit from the pay hike, but one of the handful...
Georgia medical marijuana expansion bill signed into law

Georgia medical marijuana expansion bill signed into law

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Tuesday a measure that expands the state’s medical marijuana program. Senate Bill 16 makes six more conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil allowed in Georgia: AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. It also allows patients in hospice care to possess the...
Georgia governor gives a second glance to an optometry bill

Georgia governor gives a second glance to an optometry bill

Gov. Nathan Deal took an extra look at a bill that expands the abilities of optometrists in the state. He signed into law Tuesday Senate Bill 153, which intitally related to hearing aids but was transformed into a bill that allows an optometrist to diagnose and treat certain eye conditions through injection — a procedure previously only ophthalmologists performed. The newly signed law, sponsored...
Deal vetoes bill that would have made opting out of tests easier

Deal vetoes bill that would have made opting out of tests easier

The governor today vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for parents to opt their children out of standardized state tests. House Bill 425 said parents can opt their children out of school testing without penalty. It also said students can choose to take tests with paper and pencil rather than on a computer. In his veto statement, Nathan Deal said: “House Bill 425 encourages the State...
Georgia Music Investment Act becomes law

Georgia Music Investment Act becomes law

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Monday a measure that deepens the state’s vested interest in supporting and benefiting Georgia’s entertainment industry. House Bill 155, dubbed the the Georgia Music Investment Act, is the the third leg of the state’s efforts to retain and grow creative talent and the first tax incentive targeted for musicians and music production. It offers a 15...
Georgia governor signs into law 50-plus pieces of legislation

Georgia governor signs into law 50-plus pieces of legislation

Gov. Nathan Deal signed dozens of pieces of legislation into law Monday, including an overhaul of alcohol laws long sought by craft breweries and liquor distilleries, a measure to regulate autonomous vehicles and changes to family leave policy that divided conservative lawmakers. They were among more than 50 measures that Deal signed in a marathon day that also includes a new crackdown on crimes against...
Deal signs increase to Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit

Deal signs increase to Georgia’s rural hospital tax credit

The benefit of donating to Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals just got bigger, as Gov. Nathan Deal signed a measure boosting the state’s rural hospital tax credit. Senate Bill 180 increases from 70 percent to 90 percent the value of the credit taxpayers can earn from contributions to qualifying rural hospitals. Lawmakers originally passed the 70 percent measure last year, but...
Roswell Mayor Jere Wood testifies in term limits trial

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood testifies in term limits trial

Roswell Mayor Jere Wood testified Monday in a case that questions his ability to remain in office. Michael Litten, a Roswell resident, sued Wood last year claiming that the mayor had violated term limits that he had championed. Wood was elected to a fifth term in 2013. In 2010, the Roswell city council passed an ordinance saying that the mayor would be limited to three consecutive...
Early voting has started in Cobb, Fulton for state Senate race

Early voting has started in Cobb, Fulton for state Senate race

Early voting has started in parts of Cobb and Fulton counties ahead of the May 16 runoff to replace former state senator Judson Hill. Democrat Christine Triebsch, a family and juvenile attorney, and Republican Kay Kirkpatrick, a retired orthopedic surgeon, are the two candidates on the ballot. Both were the top two finishers from among eight candidates vying for Hill’s former state Senate District...
Deal signs bill to allow alcohol sales from breweries, distilleries

Deal signs bill to allow alcohol sales from breweries, distilleries

It wasn’t timed for happy hour, but Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday made sure to please fans of craft beer and liquor. The governor signed Senate Bill 85 into law, which for the first time allows beer and liquor manufacturers to sell their products directly to consumers from the manufacturing plant.  Drinkers, however, will have to wait a few more months to take advantage of the new...
Fans & foes of campus gun law looking to propose changes

Fans & foes of campus gun law looking to propose changes

Critics as well as supporters of Georgia’s new “campus carry” law are looking for ways to make changes to the guidelines. Some supporters, such as 29-year-old Georgia State University law student Alex Ward, are thinking of fixes to the law that would allow faculty to carry permitted weapons into their own offices. Tamelonie Thomas, 23, a Georgia Southern student who opposed...
Students, faculty wait to see how Georgia’s newest gun law takes shape

Students, faculty wait to see how Georgia’s newest gun law takes shape

Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision late Thursday to sign legislation allowing guns on every public college and university in Georgia left some students and faculty reeling, while others said they understand why some students might want to carry weapons. University of Georgia junior Mallory Jessica Harris, who had organized rallies against the measure, said Friday that critics had been trading...
Early voting for Senate District 32 race begins May 6 in Sandy Springs

Early voting for Senate District 32 race begins May 6 in Sandy Springs

Voters in north Fulton County will be able to cast ballots as early as May 6 for the runoff election to fill Judson Hill’s state Senate seat. The North Fulton Service Center at 7741 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs will be home to the lone early voting polling place for the District 32 election. Early voting will be available Saturday, May 6 through Friday, May 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Hill...
A closer look at individual donors to Georgia District 6 campaigns

A closer look at individual donors to Georgia District 6 campaigns

With less than a week remaining for the special elections for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, the AJC decided to look at where donations are coming from.  To answer this question, we combed through Federal Election Commission campaign filings for five candidates -- Democrat Jon Ossoff, and Republicans Dan Moody, Bob Gray, Judson Hill and Karen Handel -- to produce...
House OKs Cobb rep’s bill to try minors as adults if they shoot a cop 

House OKs Cobb rep’s bill to try minors as adults if they shoot a cop 

The Georgia Senate will be next to consider a bill proposed by a Marietta legislator that would uncomplicate the process to try minors as adults if they’re accused of shooting police officers. The state House passed House Bill 166 on Monday with a 130- 36 vote. Rep. Bert Reeves sponsored the bill after Marietta police officer Scott Davis was responding to a report...
Cobb rep’s bill would let minors who shoot cops be tried as adults

Cobb rep’s bill would let minors who shoot cops be tried as adults

A Cobb legislator’s bill making it easier for minors accused of shooting police officers to be tried as adults will be up for a vote on the House floor Monday. State Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta sponsored the bill after Marietta police officer Scott Davis was shot on duty early Aug. 11 by an unidentified 15-year-old member of the Bloods gang. That teen’s case started in...
Georgia settles federal lawsuit alleging it blocked thousands of minority voters

Georgia settles federal lawsuit alleging it blocked thousands of minority voters

Georgia has settled a federal lawsuit that accused Secretary of State Brian Kemp of disenfranchising minority voters because of a requirement on registration forms that critics said blocked thousands of them from voter rolls. The state will no longer reject applications that don’t exactly match identification information in state and federal databases as part of the agreement...
How to contact your Georgia congressmen

How to contact your Georgia congressmen

Why should I contact elected officials?Feedback from constituents is a powerful tool for those who’ve been elected and it’s an opportunity to voice your opinion about the issues that matter to you. How should I contact them?While phone calls are the best way of contacting senators or representatives, email and snail mail are effective options as well. Emails can be sent directly from the...
Bill would impose greater transparency on state parole board

Bill would impose greater transparency on state parole board

The State Board of Pardons and Paroles would be required to hold public hearings before granting pardons or commuting a death sentence under legislation introduced in the state House.  House Bill 34, from Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, would impose even greater transparency on the board by declaring all reports, files, records and other information related to the supervision of probationers and...
Bill would close school sex loophole

Bill would close school sex loophole

Legislation to be introduced in the state House on Wednesday would close a loophole in Georgia law that weakened efforts to punish school officials that have sexual relations with students.  Rep. Joyce Chandler, R-Grayson, will introduce House Bill 32, which would make state law clear that any “employee or agent of a school” is barred from having sexual contact with...
Winter weather postpones Wild Hog Supper

Winter weather postpones Wild Hog Supper

The winter storm bearing down on Georgia has claimed another victim: the Wild Hog Supper.  The event typically occurs the Sunday before every new session of the Georgia Legislature, a welcome-back-to-Atlanta event for lawmakers, elected officials and voters. The 2017 legislative session begins Monday.  Sarah Jackson, corporate partnership manager at Georgia Food Bank Association, ...
AJC January 2017 poll methodology statement

AJC January 2017 poll methodology statement

Abt SRBI conducted the survey of Georgia residents, 18 years and older, on behalf of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The survey included telephone interviews with a representative sample of 1,092 Georgia residents (including 919 registered voters). Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (n=396) and cell phone (n=696). Interviewing was conducted from January 2nd to January 5th, 2017. ...
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