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Politics


Fulton Industrial to be part of South Fulton, if voters approve

The last unincorporated piece of Fulton County will become part of the city of South Fulton — if residents county-wide vote to allow it. The Georgia Senate this week passed a bill that would make the Fulton Industrial Boulevard district part of the new city, if a constitutional amendment that keeps the area from joining any jurisdiction is repealed. It awaits the governor’s signature....
Income tax among number of proposals reworked by Georgia Senate panel

Income tax among number of proposals reworked by Georgia Senate panel

A key Senate committee completed a two-day taxapalooza Wednesday by voting to cut the top state income tax rate, clarify that e-retailers must collect sales taxes for online purchases by Georgians, and eliminate sales taxes on taxi and limo rides. The House had pushed to tax ride-share transportation from companies such as Uber, but the panel rejected the idea. The moves came two days after the same...
Ga. stops Fulton Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand’s fee on liens

Ga. stops Fulton Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand’s fee on liens

Four years after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on fees that Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand was collecting to enrich himself, the state legislature has eliminated his ability to take the additional income. Ferdinand personally collects 50 cents every time he sells a tax lien to a private collection firm or the lien is otherwise paid off. A measure that eliminates that fee...
Legislature eliminates fees Fulton Tax Commissioner Ferdinand collects

Legislature eliminates fees Fulton Tax Commissioner Ferdinand collects

A fee that boosted the pay of the Fulton County tax commissioner by tens of thousands of dollars annually was eliminated by state lawmakers Wednesday after years of trying. Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand personally collects 50 cents every time he sells a tax lien to a private collection firm or the lien is otherwise paid off. A measure that eliminates that fee passed the state Senate after previously...
Georgia Senate leaders support income tax cut, e-tax collections

Georgia Senate leaders support income tax cut, e-tax collections

A key Senate committee backed a cut in the top state income tax rate Wednesday while also supporting legislation to force e-retailers to collect sales taxes for online purchases by Georgians. The Georgia House earlier approved House Bill 329 by House Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell, R-Camilla, which would have dropped the top tax rate from 6 percent to 5.4 percent. Everybody would have...
House advances bill to give employees sick leave flexibility

House advances bill to give employees sick leave flexibility

Employees at certain large employers must be allowed to use sick leave to care for immediate family members under legislation approved by the state House on Wednesday.  The House voted 114-51 to approve Senate Bill 201 after a debate that split the majority Republican caucus.  The bill must go back to the Senate for review.  State Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, said the bill...
Georgia Legislature approves budget, giving teachers 2 percent raises

Georgia Legislature approves budget, giving teachers 2 percent raises

The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a record new state budget Wednesday, paving the way for lawmakers to close out the 2017 legislative session. The budget now goes to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said the budget deal was struck in fewer legislative working days than during any session in recent history. The 2017 session is scheduled to end...
Spaceport bill gains final approval

Spaceport bill gains final approval

The Georgia House on Wednesday gave final approval to legislation seen as vital to the state’s pursuit of a space port in southeast Georgia.  The House voted 151-6 to approve House Bill 1. Sponsored by Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, the bill would limit the liability of any company involved in the launch of a spaceship in Georgia.  Officials in Camden County along the...

Fulton tax chief Ferdinand may finally get a cut in pay

After years of failed attempts, the Georgia legislature has finally approved a bill stopping one of the ways Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand personally profits from his position. If approved by the governor, House Bill 375 would bar the collection of fees for issuing tax executions. Since at least 2010, Ferdinand has been personally collecting 50 cents every time his office sells a...
Georgia Senate backs effort to curtail the overprescribing of opioids

Georgia Senate backs effort to curtail the overprescribing of opioids

A measure requiring doctors to log into a pill-tracking database before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs won unanimously approval Wednesday from the Georgia Senate, as supporters have said the effort would help curtail the overprescribing of opioids. House Bill 249, sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, comes as a compromise between doctors’ groups and those...
Direct sales from craft breweries, distilleries wins final OK

Direct sales from craft breweries, distilleries wins final OK

Georgia’s craft beer breweries and liquor distilleries won a major victory Wednesday, as the state Senate agreed to a measure that would allow both types of businesses to sell their goods directly to the public. The 52-1 vote sends Senate Bill 85 to Gov. Nathan Deal for his signature. If signed into law, the bill would end a decades-old stand-off that has been especially tense...
Six winners in Georgia’s new state budget

Six winners in Georgia’s new state budget

State lawmakers on Wednesday gave final passage to a record $25 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and here are some folks who came out ahead:Tens of thousands of state employees and University System staffers. Lawmakers approved 2 percent raises for most, and a 19 percent pay hike for child protective services workers. State government retirees will get a 3 percent bonus. Construction...
Drone legislation expected to breeze through state Senate

Drone legislation expected to breeze through state Senate

With state-level guidelines for Federal Aviation Administration rules settled, legislation that would regulate state use of drones could soar toward the governor’s desk. So says state House Transportation Chairman Kevin Tanner, the sponsor of House Bill 481, which would pre-empt local governments from enacting regulations regarding drone activity on top of state law. “It basically...
Judge rules whistleblower suit against Georgia Lottery can go forward

Judge rules whistleblower suit against Georgia Lottery can go forward

A whistleblower lawsuit claiming a Georgia Lottery executive was fired after refusing to support inflated sales projections should go to trial, a Fulton County Superior Court judge decided this week. Kenneth Knight, former vice president for financial management at the Georgia Lottery, argued that he was pressured by Lottery President Debbie Alford and his boss to present the lottery board with flawed...
Georgia leaders reach final deal on budget with teacher pay hike

Georgia leaders reach final deal on budget with teacher pay hike

Legislative leaders reached a final deal on a budget for the upcoming year that includes pay raises for thousands of teachers and state employees and clears the way for the end of the 2017 General Assembly session. The deal on the spending plan for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1, was signed Tuesday and could be voted on by both chambers as early as Wednesday. The 2017 session is scheduled to end...
Anti-LGBT amendment delays adoption bill 

Anti-LGBT amendment delays adoption bill 

A rewrite of Georgia’s adoption laws that late last week had an anti-LGBT amendment added to it was sent back to a Senate committee on Tuesday.  Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, announced that House Bill 159 would be sent back to the Judiciary Committee for more work. Mullis said the bill had become too “extreme.” A Judiciary subcommittee...
Kennesaw State was warned its server may be vulnerable to data breach

Kennesaw State was warned its server may be vulnerable to data breach

Kennesaw State University officials received a warning before the presidential election that a server system used by its election center may be vulnerable to a data breach. But they only notified state officials that they could have a problem after a second contact from a potential hacker raised alarms about the security of millions of Georgia voter records, according to top state officials briefed...
Georgia leaders reach final deal on budget with teacher pay hike

Georgia leaders reach final deal on budget with teacher pay hike

Georgia House and Senate leaders reached a final agreement on a budget for the upcoming year that includes pay raises for 200,000 teachers and state employees and clears the way for the end of the 2017 General Assembly session. The deal on the spending plan for fiscal 2018, which begins July 1, is expected to be signed later Tuesday and could be voted on by both chambers as early as Wednesday. The...
Tax breaks for private school scholarships would grow under new legislation

Tax breaks for private school scholarships would grow under new legislation

A program that lets taxpayers erase some of their debt to the state if they earmark the money for private school tuition would grow by $7 million a year under new amendments by Georgia lawmakers. The annual cap on the tax credits for scholarships program is $58 million, but that rises to $65 million under the latest version of House Bill 217. The legislation by Rep. John Carson, R-Marietta...
Community school model bill advances

Community school model bill advances

The House Education Committee voted 14-2 Monday to approve a bill that creates a plan for how to use grant money in at-risk schools. Senate Bill 30 outlines a pilot program that would bring faith-based groups, businesses and philanthropies together to provide food, tutoring and medical services to improve the educational environments of struggling schools. Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, minority...
Lawmakers to schools: stop suspending students

Lawmakers to schools: stop suspending students

The House Education Committee voted 9-6 Monday to approve a bill to make alternative education Georgia’s preferred school disciplinary policy rather than suspension or expulsion. By stating “it is preferable,” Senate Bill 152 preserves local control over disciplinary decisions, but the bill draws attention to schools that excessively suspend or expel students. “This bill...
Bill to expand industry certifications in public schools advances

Bill to expand industry certifications in public schools advances

The House Education Committee unanimously approved a bill that would expand industry credentialing opportunities for public school students. Senate Bill 3, also known as the CONNECT (Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training) Act, would add to the number of career oriented experiences available to students through internships, apprenticeships and skills training....
Boost in Georgia tax on used-car sales advances

Boost in Georgia tax on used-car sales advances

A key Senate committee backed legislation Monday that could mean a $200 million-a-year tax hike for used-car buyers. Supporters of House Bill 340 — which is backed by new-car dealers — view it as cleaning up a loophole that currently allows used-car dealers to get an unfair competitive advantage on taxes and to sometimes scam the system. The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill...
Judicial watchdog bill clears hurdle

Judicial watchdog bill clears hurdle

It took three votes, but the Senate Judiciary Committee has finally approved legislation to reconstitute the state’s judicial watchdog agency and correct unintended problems lawmakers caused a year ago.
Bill advances to eliminate redundant tests

Bill advances to eliminate redundant tests

The House Education Committee unanimously approved today a bill that strives to replace standardized state tests with national tests like the SAT and ACT.  Senate Bill 211 attempts to eliminate redundancies between national tests and Georgia’s End of Course Test, allowing students to take fewer tests. “The concept behind all this is trying to build in efficiencies in our testing...
Georgia governor slams ‘religious liberty’ change to adoption bill

Georgia governor slams ‘religious liberty’ change to adoption bill

Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday said he opposes a late Senate effort to add “religious liberty” protections to an unrelated bill dealing with adoptions, a change that could allow private adoption agencies receiving public money to refuse to place children with LGBT families. The governor’s message could stall the measure in the Legislature’s final days of the 2017 session,...
Trump travel ban could heighten doctor shortage

Trump travel ban could heighten doctor shortage

Dr. Heval Kelli has treated all sorts of patients while studying in Atlanta to become a physician: Young and old. Rich and poor. Black and white. Civilians and U.S. military veterans. Unlike most of his patients, the Morehouse School of Medicine graduate was not born in the United States. He and his Kurdish family came to the U.S. as refugees in 2001, fleeing persecution in Syria and settling first...
Senate panel backs bill that hikes taxes on Georgia used-car buyers

Senate panel backs bill that hikes taxes on Georgia used-car buyers

The Senate Finance Committee approved legislation Monday that could mean a $200 million a year tax hike for used-car buyers. Supporters of House Bill 340 by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire - which is backed by new-car dealers - view it as cleaning up a loophole that currently allows used-car dealers to get an unfair competitive advantage on taxes and to sometimes scam the system. Who ultimately...
ICE: Clayton, DeKalb sheriff’s officials limiting cooperation

ICE: Clayton, DeKalb sheriff’s officials limiting cooperation

The Trump administration on Monday issued a report identifying more than 100 local law enforcement agencies — including the Clayton and DeKalb county sheriff’s offices — that are limiting cooperation with federal deportation officers. At issue in the report is how these local agencies are responding to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers, which are requests made to...
Doraville wins court ruling against strip club

Doraville wins court ruling against strip club

The city of Doraville on Monday won another round in its long-running, contentious dispute with Oasis Goodtime Emporium, the adult entertainment club on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. In a one-sentence ruling, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected the club’s bid to strike down a pretrial injunction that forbids Oasis from selling alcohol and providing nude dancing. The case now returns to DeKalb...
Georgia lawmakers send school test refusal bill to governor

Georgia lawmakers send school test refusal bill to governor

Students will have a clear right to refuse to take state tests in schools without being punished if Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation approved by the Georgia Senate Monday. House Bill 425 says schools cannot punish students who refuse to take standardized state tests and encourages state and local school boards to let students take the tests with paper and pencil rather than on a computer...
Opponents to Georgia’s ‘campus carry’ gun bill appeal to Deal to block it

Opponents to Georgia’s ‘campus carry’ gun bill appeal to Deal to block it

Opponents of a bill to allow firearms on Georgia’s public college and university campuses have upped their campaign urging Gov. Nathan Deal to reject the measure, releasing a letter Monday in which they try to lay out arguments bolstering Deal’s veto of a similar measure last year. The sponsor of House Bill 280, state Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, has repeatedly made...
Republicans, Democrats target Ossoff in Georgia special election

Republicans, Democrats target Ossoff in Georgia special election

His Republican rivals call him “Darth Vader,” a “lightweight liberal” and a “puppet of the left.” Fellow Democrats vow to block his “coronation” and paint him as an outsider. More than $1 million has already been spent to bog down his candidacy. Democrat Jon Ossoff has transformed the race for suburban Atlanta’s 6th Congressional District, and...
Is there any evidence guns will make Georgia college campuses safer?

Is there any evidence guns will make Georgia college campuses safer?

In pushing through another bill to allow guns on Georgia public college campuses, lawmakers argue that college students need a way to defend themselves. A University of North Georgia professor put that contention to the test and found it lacking. Writing in the AJC Get Schooled blog, Matthew Boedy said,”Advocates of campus carry – that policy inscribed in House Bill 280 now before the...
Even with new White House, Georgia faces old ‘dilemma’ over Medicaid

Even with new White House, Georgia faces old ‘dilemma’ over Medicaid

Gov. Nathan Deal and other state GOP leaders could soon be forced to consider what was once unthinkable: an expansion of the Medicaid program while there’s a Republican in the White House. The governor and Republican allies for years slammed the expansion of the Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act as too costly in the long run, and Deal’s opposition was a cornerstone of his re-election...
Tom Price in the spotlight as point man for GOP health plan

Tom Price in the spotlight as point man for GOP health plan

Under the bright studio lights and a red, white and blue set, moderators and audience members at a recent CNN town hall event took turns grilling Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about the way the GOP health care bill treats the sick, the vulnerable and the elderly. Questions oscillated from the personal to the emotional to the fiscal. A since-recovered cancer patient spoke of how Obamacare&rsquo...
How would e-filing affect public access to court records? Jury is out

How would e-filing affect public access to court records? Jury is out

Lawmakers appear poised to have Georgia join a growing number of states with mandatory e-filing systems, in which lawyers can submit lawsuits and court motions with a click of a mouse on their computers. But First Amendment advocates are expressing concern that the new system could diminish the public’s access to court records and allow clerks and private vendors to gouge users for copies and...
Bill Torpy at Large: This guy’s spending his Ossoff in the 6th District

Bill Torpy at Large: This guy’s spending his Ossoff in the 6th District

Jon Ossoff is waging a not-so-subtle stealth campaign. The new Boy Wonder of the Democratic Party hopes to break out of a crowded field in the right-leaning 6th Congressional District in north metro Atlanta and steal an election right out from under the noses of the GOP. He has gained national recognition because the special election to replace Tom Price is one of the first post-Trump races....
Judge dismisses suit alleging Georgia wrongly bumped voters off rolls

Judge dismisses suit alleging Georgia wrongly bumped voters off rolls

A federal judge in Atlanta late Friday dismissed a lawsuit that had accused Secretary of State Brian Kemp of illegally bumping Georgia voters off the state’s rolls ahead of the 2016 presidential election. In the 21-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten Sr. said the state had taken a “reasonable and nondiscriminatory” approach in trying to reach voters who had not...
Trump’s proposed cuts make Meals on Wheels groups worry about seniors

Trump’s proposed cuts make Meals on Wheels groups worry about seniors

Barbara Makris has been legally blind since 1980. She can’t cook. Meals on Wheels has been a lifeline, for the most part, delivering a meal six times a week. The 94-year-old retired customer service specialist also gets help from her adult children. “This is the only way I can stay in my home,” said Makris, who’s in the Toco Hills area and lives on Social Security. “If...
OPINION: New bill’s a solid step toward improving struggling schools

OPINION: New bill’s a solid step toward improving struggling schools

An effective public education stands as the greatest predictor of economic success and mobility. Yet, for decades, political leaders have traded ideological arguments about why we have failed our most vulnerable children. Disagreements about poor resources versus poor leadership have become paralytic, grounded in conjecture rather than evidence – and ignoring the possibility of both as the cause...
OPINION: Latest school takeover plan should be rejected too

OPINION: Latest school takeover plan should be rejected too

A vote by legislators in the state House of Representatives demonstrated contempt and a lack of regard for the will of Georgia’s citizens. Last November, nearly 60 percent of voters around the state shot down Amendment 1 — a ballot initiative that would have given the governor unprecedented authority to take over local school districts and created the state-run Opportunity School...
Capitol Recap: Tax measure sets Georgia car dealers against each other

Capitol Recap: Tax measure sets Georgia car dealers against each other

It’s March, when traditional powers are often matched up against each other. Not just on basketball courts, but also the floors of Georgia’s House and Senate. This past week — and possibly until the legislative session closes on March 30 — it’s been new-car dealers vs. used-car dealers. The fight is over House Bill 340, which would change how the 7 percent motor...
Senate committee adds key exemption to Georgia’s ‘campus carry’ gun bill

Senate committee adds key exemption to Georgia’s ‘campus carry’ gun bill

A bill to allow firearms on Georgia’s public college and university campuses was amended Thursday to exempt areas on some campuses where high schoolers attend class. The move by the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively allows House Bill 280 to move forward while also giving lawmakers more time to negotiate with Gov. Nathan Deal over a possible compromise. The action came as the bill was...
Late changes to Georgia adoption bill spur fears of discrimination

Late changes to Georgia adoption bill spur fears of discrimination

Legislation aimed at modernizing Georgia’s adoption laws was changed late Thursday in committee to include language protecting private agencies that receive state money but don’t want to place children with all families. The move by the Senate Judiciary Committee would essentially protect agencies that may have a faith-based mission and do not want to place children with same-sex couples...
Compromise reached to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law

Compromise reached to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law

Lawmakers reached a compromise Thursday over how to expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law, clearing a pathway for legislation to pass as soon as next week. The agreement over Senate Bill 16 would add six conditions eligible for treatment with a limited form of cannabis oil allowed in Georgia to include Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy...
Big gains, big losses possible for Georgia in Trump budget

Big gains, big losses possible for Georgia in Trump budget

President Donald Trump’s first federal budget plan has proposals that are bound to win praise from some corners of Georgia and produce a lot of worry from others. Georgia is home to eight major military bases, has one of the largest contingencies of military personnel in the country, has military contractors and its universities are doing a lot of defense research, so Trump’s call to boost...
Georgia elections bill passes Senate after debate

Georgia elections bill passes Senate after debate

An elections bill that includes a 26-month deadline for applicants to correct voter registration discrepancies passed on a party-line vote Thursday in the state Senate, after a nearly hourlong debate in which Democrats claimed it may impede voting in Georgia. House Bill 268, sponsored by state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, is considered by supporters as a cleanup of the state’s election...
Compromise reached over expanding Georgia’s medical marijuana law

Compromise reached over expanding Georgia’s medical marijuana law

Lawmakers appear to have reached a compromise Thursday that would expand Georgia’s medical marijuana law. The agreement over Senate Bill 16 would add six illnesses and conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana in Georgia to include Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome. It would additionally...
Senate launches bill backing Georgia space flights

Senate launches bill backing Georgia space flights

The state Senate backed a bill Thursday clearing the way for commercial space flight launches in Georgia, starting a crucial countdown toward final passage. House Bill 1, sponsored by state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, has been dubbed the Georgia Space Flight Act. It essentially sets legal rules over liability involving private property and any would-be astronauts, a first for the state. It...
Budget cutters face lots of obstacles, even within their own parties

Budget cutters face lots of obstacles, even within their own parties

President Donald Trump’s first budget, expected to be released Thursday, will provide his blueprint to drastically reshape the federal bureaucracy. Reports are that he wants to cut deeply into the coffers of the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department, beef up the Pentagon’s annual budget by more than 10 percent and eliminate other programs, including federal legal aid and...
House subcommittee strips ‘Back the Badge’ bill of ‘obstruction’ language

House subcommittee strips ‘Back the Badge’ bill of ‘obstruction’ language

A House subcommittee voted Wednesday to strip a bill of language that would have punished individuals who purposefully obstruct highways, streets and public passages to the satisfaction of civil rights groups. Public Safety Committee Chairman Tyler Harper said Senate Bill 160, dubbed “Back the Badge Act,” is an effort to show law enforcement officials that the state cares for...
Atlanta mayoral race: Get to know the candidates

Atlanta mayoral race: Get to know the candidates

The race to replace Kasim Reed as mayor of Atlanta has brought out a cross section of nine major candidates, one of the biggest fields for the job in years. The contenders, which include current and former city officials as well as a state senator and the sitting leader of Fulton County, are making their bids as City Hall is embroiled in a federal investigation of alleged bribery for city contracts...
Georgia leaders worry state may be ‘punished’ under GOP health care plan

Georgia leaders worry state may be ‘punished’ under GOP health care plan

As Gov. Nathan Deal raised concerns again this week that the U.S. House GOP health care plan could “punish” Georgia and other states that didn’t expand the Medicaid program, one of the state’s leading supporters of the plan urged patience. U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter is Georgia’s sole member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, one of three House panels with jurisdiction...
Civil rights groups oppose state bills affecting ability to protest

Civil rights groups oppose state bills affecting ability to protest

Civil rights groups in Georgia are calling out state senate bills designed to protect citizens and law enforcement officials as thinly-veiled attempts to restrict freedom of speech and right to peacefully assemble in protest. The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and Asian Americans Advancing Justice of Atlanta held a joint press conference Wednesday in opposition to Senate Bill 1, which broadly...
Georgia lawmakers’ dilemma: $200 million tax hike or loophole closer?

Georgia lawmakers’ dilemma: $200 million tax hike or loophole closer?

Used-car dealers see it as a $200 million tax hike for their customers, most of whom can’t afford to buy a new car. New-car dealers view it as fixing a loophole that currently allows used-car dealers to get an unfair competitive advantage on taxes and to sometimes scam the system. Who wins one of the General Assembly’s hottest business battles — over how cars are taxed — probably...
Georgia’s 2018 governors race is about to heat up

Georgia’s 2018 governors race is about to heat up

Georgia’s race for governor is expected to formally kick off within weeks when the first round of candidates announce their campaigns, but the emerging contest is still shrouded in mystery. Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Democratic House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams are all but guaranteed to enter the 2018 race, likely after the legislative session ends. They’ve lined up supporters...
Experts push paper ballot trail after alleged breach of Georgia data

Experts push paper ballot trail after alleged breach of Georgia data

A group of 20 computer scientists and security experts called on Georgia to overhaul its elections system and begin using a system with a paper audit trail, saying it would assure accuracy and public confidence following an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records. In a letter sent Tuesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the group acknowledged...
Experts push paper ballots after alleged breach of Georgia voter data

Experts push paper ballots after alleged breach of Georgia voter data

A group of 20 computer scientists and security experts called on Georgia to overhaul its elections system and begin using voter-verified paper ballots, saying it would assure accuracy and public confidence following an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records. In a letter sent Tuesday to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the group acknowledged that...
Newt Gingrich on why he wants to abolish a ‘corrupt’ CBO

Newt Gingrich on why he wants to abolish a ‘corrupt’ CBO

Not a fan of the Congressional Budget Office’s review of the House GOP healthcare plan? Abolish the office. That’s what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday on Fox News after the office reported that 24 million fewer people could get coverage under the contentious proposal. “It is corrupt. It is dishonest. It was totally wrong on Obamacare by huge, huge margins...
Winter weather threatens Georgia blueberry, peach crops

Winter weather threatens Georgia blueberry, peach crops

Update March 15: Peaches were hit hardest in Tuesday night’s freeze, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said Wednesday. Blueberries appeared to fare better and Vidalia onions “escaped any major damage so far.” The early spring weather of the past few weeks led to blooming peach trees “and unfortunately the freezing temperatures killed any open flowers...
Winter weather threatens Georgia blueberry, peach crops

Winter weather threatens Georgia blueberry, peach crops

Georgia fruit farmers face the potential loss of millions of dollars in crops as a late-winter freeze threatens the state, top agriculture officials said Tuesday.  State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said blueberry and peach farmers in particular are at risk.  “They’re telling me this morning that 60 percent of the rabbit-eye blueberries and then even some portions of the...
Ga. lawmakers may be about to let your annual sales tax holiday end

Ga. lawmakers may be about to let your annual sales tax holiday end

As Georgia lawmakers debate big-ticket tax breaks for yacht owners and others, regular folk may be about to lose a common annual sales tax holiday. The state for more than a decade has given shoppers one sales-tax-free weekend a year for buying appliances with the ‘Energy Star’ or ‘Water Sense’ label, as long as the purchase price was $1,500 or less. The move came as the state...
Georgia Senate appears set to back raises for teachers, state workers

Georgia Senate appears set to back raises for teachers, state workers

The Georgia Senate is expected this week to back a record state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes pay raises for 200,000 teachers and state employees and more than $1 billion worth of new construction projects. The plan also includes $485,000 so Senate committee meetings can be streamed over the internet. Currently, House meetings are streamed, but the Senate has in the past resisted...
Georgia Democratic leader demands details on voter data breach

Georgia Democratic leader demands details on voter data breach

The chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia on Monday demanded that Secretary of State Brian Kemp accept help from the Department of Homeland Security after an alleged breach of confidential data that could affect millions of Georgia voter records. DuBose Porter also criticized Kemp for disclosing few details about the nature and origin of the attack, and he raised concerns that it could...
Bill poses challenge to Georgia governor wary of big tax overhauls

Bill poses challenge to Georgia governor wary of big tax overhauls

Gov. Nathan Deal has signed dozens of measures since taking office that carve out hundreds of millions of dollars in special tax breaks. But he’s opposed more substantive changes to the tax code that powerful Republican lawmakers have long championed. Deal recently warned candidates aiming to replace him when he leaves office in 2019 to defy the “temptation” of broad tax changes...
Georgia Senate committee advances ‘sanctuary’ campus bill

Georgia Senate committee advances ‘sanctuary’ campus bill

A Senate committee advanced legislation Monday that would punish colleges within the state that declare themselves “sanctuaries” for students living in the country illegally. “If you’re not willing to follow the law, if you’re not willing to enable the enforcement of the law … then state funds are not going to follow you,” said state Rep. Earl Ehrhart...
Ag pick Sonny Perdue outlines divestiture plans ahead of Senate vote

Ag pick Sonny Perdue outlines divestiture plans ahead of Senate vote

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue plans to step down from his business holding company and restructure his family trusts in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest should the Senate confirm him to be secretary of agriculture, according to new federal ethics documents. As part of a deal struck with the Office of Government Ethics, Perdue would resign from positions as manager of Perdue Management...
Georgia Senate on track to back pay raises for teachers, streaming

Georgia Senate on track to back pay raises for teachers, streaming

The Georgia Senate is expected this week to back a record state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes pay raises for 200,000 teachers and state employees and more than $1 billion worth of new construction projects. The plan also includes $485,000 so Senate committee meetings can be streamed over the internet. Currently House meetings are streamed, but the Senate has in the past resisted...
Georgia officials mount response to GOP health plan

Georgia officials mount response to GOP health plan

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said Friday that the new health care legislation put forward by Republican leaders in Congress is not something he could support without important changes. Cagle’s comments came following a meeting of a new Georgia Senate task force he has formed to try to nudge Congress to shape the federal proposal to Georgia’s benefit. The task force represents the state’s...
Former senator picked to replace Tex McIver on state election board

Former senator picked to replace Tex McIver on state election board

Former state Sen. Seth Harp has been picked to replace Claud “Tex” McIver as a member of the state board that oversees voting and elections in Georgia. Harp, who left the Senate in 2010 for an unsuccessful run to become state insurance commissioner, is a lawyer and senior partner in the Columbus law firm Harp Poydasheff Post and Sowers. He has served as chairman of the Muskogee County...
Final passage for bill that helps GWCC build a new hotel in Atlanta

Final passage for bill that helps GWCC build a new hotel in Atlanta

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority just got a bit more financial freedom toward the construction of an 800-room hotel in downtown Atlanta. House Bill 264, sponsored by state Rep. Chuck Efstration, R-Dacula, would double the authority’s ability to issue its own revenue bonds, upping the current $200 million cap to $400 million. The state Senate voted 45-9 Friday to approve...
AJC Watchdog: Redistricting reform has uphill climb in Georgia

AJC Watchdog: Redistricting reform has uphill climb in Georgia

A Democratic state senator has a plan to reform the way Georgia draws its political boundaries that would take the job away from politicians and put it in the hands of a citizen-led commission. But Senate Resolution 6 is going nowhere this year, despite hundreds of supporters who turned out on short notice to support it. “We firmly believe that picking elected officials should be in the...
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