Deal’s key staff helped coordinate response to storm from South Africa

Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aides wrestled with the fallout of last week’s snowstorm while they were about 8,500 miles away on a state-sponsored trip to South Africa. Deal chief of staff Chris Riley and the governor’s chief spokeswoman, Jen Talaber Ryan, were part of an economic development mission that traveled to South Africa on Dec. 6 and is set to return Wednesday to Atlanta. Other...
Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aides wrestled with the fallout of last week’s snowstorm while they were about 8,500 miles away on a state-sponsored trip to South Africa. Deal chief of staff Chris...

Middle Georgia’s opioid overdose outbreak remains unsolved 

In his nightmares, Jamarco Gibson doesn’t know where he is, why he is there and where he is going. He feels as if he is dying, just like when he swallowed the yellow “Percocet” pill he bought from a stranger six months ago. When the 24-year-old Macon resident wakes up from his nightmares, he is drenched in sweat, jobless, deep in debt and worrying how he will provide for his five-year-old...
In his nightmares, Jamarco Gibson doesn’t know where he is, why he is there and where he is going. He feels as if he is dying, just like when he swallowed the yellow “Percocet” pill...


Wins for Democrats and women make a small dent in Georgia Legislature’s majorities

Wins for Democrats and women make a small dent in Georgia Legislature’s majorities

Though Democrats and women made gains in the Georgia General Assembly after Tuesday’s runoffs, they remain significant minorities at the Capitol. The Georgia House and Senate will remain dominated by Republicans and men during the 2018 legislative session, even after Democrats and women flipped three seats each. As a result of this year’s special elections, the state’s...
The Week: A campaign ends and another one takes its place

The Week: A campaign ends and another one takes its place

The Atlanta mayor’s race, all those other municipal runoffs and special elections to the Legislature — sooooo Tuesday. The spotlight quickly turns to November, when voters return to the polls to select among a field of candidates for governor, Congress and any number of other jobs that come with introductions to “the honorable” this and “the honorable” that. Some...
Georgia EPD considering changes to water quality regulation

Georgia EPD considering changes to water quality regulation

Georgia officials are proposing changes to water safety regulations that could lead to more pollution in the state’s waterways, environmentalists say. But state Environmental Protection Division officials say the tweaks are meant to clarify rules that regulate how much waste can be dumped into Georgia waters. Jac Capp, the chief of the EPD’s Watershed Protection Branch, said the Department...
Census: Atlanta region among the worst for traffic as poverty grows

Census: Atlanta region among the worst for traffic as poverty grows

If the hours you spend idling on the Atlanta region’s congested highways aren’t enough evidence, a new U.S. Census Bureau report confirms the metro area has some of the nation’s worst traffic. To be released Thursday, the new American Community Survey’s five-year estimates show residents in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metropolitan area last year spent an average of 31...
Report: Lax rules in U.S., Georgia lead to legislator conflicts

Report: Lax rules in U.S., Georgia lead to legislator conflicts

When a powerful state House leader pushed legislation to set a minimum commission for his industry, many of his colleagues didn’t think twice about backing the bill. It eventually died on the final night of the session, and a senator told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was “terrible legislation,” but it still made it through one chamber. Such legislation is far from uncommon...
Audit: Barriers prevent adequate treatment for opioid abuse in Georgia

Audit: Barriers prevent adequate treatment for opioid abuse in Georgia

Georgia does not provide adequate access to medical treatment for opioid abuse, whether it is because it’s difficult for those in rural areas to get to a facility or state agencies that supervise people don’t have clear guidance on providing the medicine, an audit found recently. The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts on Monday released a study of the state’s efforts to help...
Inmates transcribe textbooks into braille, saving Georgia money

Inmates transcribe textbooks into braille, saving Georgia money

Deep inside Central State Prison, more than a dozen men spend hours each day hunched over a computer keyboard, transcribing math, literature and political science textbooks into braille. The murderers, sex offenders and other criminals have set up their respective work stations with photographs, plants and books, just like any other office. “When I come through that door each morning, I don&rsquo...
Insured damages from Irma now up to $670 million in Georgia

Insured damages from Irma now up to $670 million in Georgia

Estimates of the damage caused when Hurricane Irma hit Georgia as a tropical storm in September continue to grow months after the winds and rain dissipated. The state Department of Insurance estimates that insurance claims from damage caused by the storm are now up to $670 million. That total comes from about 130,000 claims of storm damage in Georgia. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens’ office...
Georgia tosses challenge to candidacy of state Senate hopeful

Georgia tosses challenge to candidacy of state Senate hopeful

Linda Pritchett, a Democratic candidate in next week’s runoff election, is eligible to appear on the ballot Tuesday. The Secretary of State’s Office on Wednesday evening responded to a request from a Senate District 39 voter who asked Secretary of State Brian Kemp to challenge Pritchett’s qualifications, alleging she had lied on her declaration of candidacy. In a letter to Erin Glynn...
Georgia nurses asking Senate for more freedom to treat patients

Georgia nurses asking Senate for more freedom to treat patients

The Georgia Senate’s study committee on barriers to access to health care had its final meeting Monday, and is expected to issue recommendations later this year for the coming legislative session. A key subject is whether highly trained nurses should be allowed more independence in conducting health care. Nursing groups say Georgia is too restrictive, and allowing them to prescribe and order...
Voter challenges legitimacy of Georgia Senate candidate

Voter challenges legitimacy of Georgia Senate candidate

A Fulton County lawyer is asking the Secretary of State’s Office to challenge the right of a candidate in next week’s 39th Georgia Senate District runoff to be on the ballot. Linda Pritchett is one of two Democrats vying for the seat Vincent Fort vacated to make an unsuccessful run for Atlanta mayor. Pritchett, a paralegal, faces off against Nikema Williams, who works for Planned Parenthood...
Georgia panel studying homelessness urges focus on mental illness

Georgia panel studying homelessness urges focus on mental illness

Georgia needs to target issues around mental health and substance abuse if it wants to address the needs of the state’s homeless population, a state Senate committee said Monday. The study committee released nine recommendations that it says will improve access to mental and behavioral health services, and in turn keep people off the streets. “There’s (potential for) quite a few...
Georgia 2018: Kemp calls for ‘clean’ adoption bill

Georgia 2018: Kemp calls for ‘clean’ adoption bill

Brian Kemp in a staff meeting at his office in the Capitol. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM Republican Brian Kemp waded into a prickly political battle on Monday when he called on lawmakers to pass a measure to modernize Georgia’s adoption laws without a controversial “religious liberty” provision and pledged to quickly sign it into law if elected governor. That’s...
Buyers beware: Georgia shoppers should be on guard for identity theft

Buyers beware: Georgia shoppers should be on guard for identity theft

Holiday shoppers should be vigilant about scams to steal their private information and income tax refunds. That’s the warning delivered Monday by the Georgia Department of Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley and the IRS, which are trying to crack down on tax fraud. Customers shouldn’t click on suspicious links in their emails, carry their Social Security cards with them or...
Georgia’s craft brewers would win big in Senate tax bill

Georgia’s craft brewers would win big in Senate tax bill

The U.S. Senate’s new tax bill would give Georgia’s small craft breweries some holiday cheer months after a watershed state law provided a major economic boon to beer makers and liquor distillers. The would-be Christmas present comes in the form of a proposed tax decrease, which industry advocates say would put thousands of dollars into the pockets of fledgling breweries across the state...
Governor to consider vast new changes to Georgia’s judiciary

Governor to consider vast new changes to Georgia’s judiciary

A panel created by Gov. Nathan Deal recommended a range of options to counter a landmark Georgia Supreme Court ruling that effectively bars residents from suing the state when trying to overturn a law they believe is unconstitutional. The findings submitted to Deal on Tuesday by the Court Reform Council also suggested the creation of a statewide business court system and granting new powers...
Paper ballots pass Election Day test in Georgia

Paper ballots pass Election Day test in Georgia

The results are in from this month’s test run of a voting system that could bring paper ballots back to Georgia: It was easy to use and fast, but it would come with a high cost to taxpayers. The trial of the touch screen-plus-paper ballot voting system “came off without a hitch” when it was tried during the Nov. 7 election for Conyers’ mayor and City Council, Georgia...
Federal tax overhaul plans target bonds widely used in Georgia

Federal tax overhaul plans target bonds widely used in Georgia

Congressional proposals to change the U.S. tax structure may have a major impact in the future on infrastructure projects in Georgia — from road construction to how much students pay to live in college dorms. The tax overhaul that the U.S. House passed last week would eliminate the kind of bonds the University System of Georgia has used to build more than $3 billion worth of dorms, parking decks...
First American title pawn pays $225K for alleged violations against Georgia customers

First American title pawn pays $225K for alleged violations against Georgia customers

A Georgia title pawn company is paying about $225,000 to settle allegations that it sued customers who defaulted on loans, threatened customers with arrest warrants and misrepresented itself in advertisements. Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced last week that First American Title Lending of Georgia will make the payment in response to allegations that it violated consumer protection...
Group blames low EPD funding for Georgia’s water pollution problems

Group blames low EPD funding for Georgia’s water pollution problems

Members of a group of clean water advocates said the General Assembly’s failure to fully fund the Environmental Protection Division is a recurring theme of the organization’s annual list of problematic waterways and policies. Joe Moore, a member of the Georgia Water Coalition, said the Legislature harms the state’s waterways when it doesn’t give the EPD the money it needs to...
The Week: A Moore win in Alabama could thrust Isakson into spotlight

The Week: A Moore win in Alabama could thrust Isakson into spotlight

If Republican Roy Moore wins Alabama’s special election to the U.S. Senate next month, and if fellow senators choose to expel him from the chamber over accusations of sexual misconduct involving the candidate and teenagers when he was in his 30s — so a couple of huge “ifs” — Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson could be a key cog in the process. As chairman of the Senate...
Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving

Georgia Senate meetings will be live-streamed after Thanksgiving

Beginning the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, Georgians who are interested in watching state senators at work can live-stream committee meetings being held in the statehouse. Members of the Georgia Senate on Friday held a mock committee meeting led by Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer, R-Duluth, to test out the new wiring and equipment. “The work of the General Assembly should be...
Opioid epidemic’s ripple effects: Hepatitis C spreading in Georgia

Opioid epidemic’s ripple effects: Hepatitis C spreading in Georgia

Georgia’s opioid epidemic isn’t just destroying families and local economies, it’s also spreading other diseases. For the first time in history, Georgia’s level of hepatitis C infection has surpassed 14,000 victims in one year, the state epidemiologist on Thursday told a study committee in the Georgia House of Representatives. And the likely main culprit, she said, was heroin...
AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

AJC Watchdog: Little sunlight on local campaign donations

Four years ago, the Georgia General Assembly passed a little-noticed change in state law that has resulted in dramatically less sunlight on who is paying to elect candidates in local races. The legislation — House Bill 143 — said candidates for county or city offices no longer had to file their campaign contribution and financial disclosure forms with the state ethics commission....
Georgia Senate panel seeks slowdown in passage of tax credits

Georgia Senate panel seeks slowdown in passage of tax credits

A Georgia Senate panel is expected to recommend what would be a fairly revolutionary change in the way lawmakers have traditionally passed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of special-interest tax breaks at the end of each General Assembly session. A special committee reviewing whether to continue tax breaks — such as those given to filmmakers, developers, research companies and, this past...
Some Georgia school retirees see health coverage costs skyrocket

Some Georgia school retirees see health coverage costs skyrocket

Chuck Trader decided to become a middle-school math teacher in 2007 after years in corporate finance, in part because he believed that as an educator, he’d be able to retire in his early 60s with good, affordable, state-subsidized health insurance. When he retired 10 years later he found out he was wrong. Very wrong. His family’s State Health Benefit Plan coverage nearly tripled, and his...
A GOP proposal would change voting process after Senate stunner

A GOP proposal would change voting process after Senate stunner

The surprising all-Democratic runoff for a state Senate seat long held by Republicans would never have happened under legislation set to be introduced before next year’s legislative session. State Sen. Josh McKoon, a Republican candidate for secretary of state, said he’ll file legislation next week that would require both parties to nominate their own candidates in a special election....
State officials project another big shortfall for Georgia health plan

State officials project another big shortfall for Georgia health plan

State officials are projecting a massive shortfall in a few years for the health insurance program that covers 640,000 teachers, state employees, retirees and their dependents. Lisa Walker, the chief financial officer for the state Department of Community Health, told the agency’s board that the program will have a surplus this fiscal year and next, which begins July 1. But for the budget year...
Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

Ga. Supreme Court ruling baffles open government advocates

When is a record of court not a “court record?” When the Georgia Supreme Court says so. In a recent decision, the justices ruled that the public has no right to access audio from inside the state’s courtrooms. “Disclosure,” a popular legal affairs podcast, had sought recordings from a 2001 murder trial in Floyd County, and...
Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

Watchdog: What do Georgia judges have to hide?

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s podcast “Breakdown” is a good listen, but it’s more than just that. Just ask Justin Chapman. In its first season, “Breakdown” focused on the case of Chapman, a Bremen man serving a long sentence for killing his neighbor in an intentionally set fire. The podcast made liberal use of archival audio, including courtroom recordings...
Georgia Ports leaders seek more federal funds for Savannah River dredging

Georgia Ports leaders seek more federal funds for Savannah River dredging

Georgia Ports Authority officials plan to hit Capitol Hill this week to press for more federal funding to deepen the Savannah River, and they’ll bring with them new figures to support their case that show record-breaking cargo traffic. The Savannah port saw container traffic increase by nearly a third in October, setting a new monthly record as the bustling harbor continues to see larger vessels...
GA Senate task force prepares results

GA Senate task force prepares results

Recommendations on Georgia’s health care system should come within weeks from a task force launched by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the Georgia Senate.  Legislation may follow when the legislative session begins in January. The “Health Care Reform Task Force” earlier this year flew in two conservative experts as speakers.  They addressed the possibilities for Georgia of ...
Kemp’s office concludes election data not lost in server wipe

Kemp’s office concludes election data not lost in server wipe

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office said Monday that Kennesaw State University’s elections center acted “in accordance with standard IT procedures” when it wiped data from a computer server shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking to force the state to overhaul its election technology. The data wipe, first reported by The Associated Press, was revealed...
Should Georgia require drivers to use hands-free phone technology? Take our poll

Should Georgia require drivers to use hands-free phone technology? Take our poll

A driver was killed when his car crashed into a MARTA bus Oct. 21 in southwest Atlanta. Statistics from the Georgia Department of Transportation show 1,561 people died on Georgia roads last year. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM A state House of Representatives committee studying distracted driving held its last meeting Monday and will soon begin crafting recommendations on how...
Georgia lawmaker wants to allow cities to manage Confederate monuments

Georgia lawmaker wants to allow cities to manage Confederate monuments

An Atlanta lawmaker said the fact that local governments have passed resolutions urging the state to let them decide whether to move Confederate monuments might help her gain support for a bill she plans to introduce to do just that. State Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, said she will file a bill next month that would allow decisions about the monuments to be made locally. “I think that given...
Will Gwinnett County join MARTA? Not likely, officials say

Will Gwinnett County join MARTA? Not likely, officials say

Gwinnett County joining MARTA? Not likely, officials say As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, mass transit is gaining new momentum across the region as local governments prepare expansion plans for voter consideration. Fulton and Gwinnett counties may take proposals to the ballot next year. Cobb and DeKalb counties also are considering their transit future...
Kemp starts probe after data on Georgia election computer destroyed

Kemp starts probe after data on Georgia election computer destroyed

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Thursday that his office is launching an investigation after data was quietly destroyed on a computer server shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking to force the state to overhaul its election technology. The data wipe, first reported by The Associated Press, was revealed in an email sent by a state prosecutor to lawyers representing election transparency...
Georgia Democrats rip Athens candidate for ‘disqualifying’ comments

Georgia Democrats rip Athens candidate for ‘disqualifying’ comments

Republican Houston Gaines is running for an Athens-based Georgia House seat. The sole Republican running for a conservative-leaning Athens-based House district is facing criticism from Democrats for comments he made to a reporter who pressed him on his perspective in the race. “It’s obvious by just looking at us that we have a different perspective,” Houston...
AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

AJC readers speak: Booting cars in Georgia needs legislative solution

Sarah Saltzman drove to the Avalon shopping center in Alpharetta a few weeks ago to return a pair of shoes in one of the development’s many shops. She found a relatively close parking space, walked to the store and returned in short order to find a big, yellow boot on her tire and a note on her windshield with a number to call to have it removed. Saltzman took out her phone, but before she could...
PSC’s Wise to quit after Vogtle vote so governor can appoint successor

PSC’s Wise to quit after Vogtle vote so governor can appoint successor

Georgia Public Service Commission Chairman Stan Wise plans to resign after a crucial vote in February on the future of the controversial Plant Vogtle project. Wise had announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election in 2018. But what Wise, a resident of Cobb County who has served 23 years on the commission, didn’t say was that he didn’t plan to fill out his term...
Deal’s top aide worries GOP ‘rhetoric’ could hamper Georgia’s Amazon bid

Deal’s top aide worries GOP ‘rhetoric’ could hamper Georgia’s Amazon bid

The governor’s office is warning that efforts to pass “religious liberty” legislation during the General Assembly’s upcoming session, even if they fail, could harm Georgia’s attempts to land economic development prizes such as Amazon’s second headquarters. Gov. Nathan Deal’s top aide, Chris Riley, said he’s concerned the “rhetoric” in the...
Georgia Lawmaker: Funding for mass transit is “the next big lift”

Georgia Lawmaker: Funding for mass transit is “the next big lift”

State Rep. Kevin Tanner believes funding for mass transit is Georgia’s “next big lift.” The chairman of the state House Transportation Committee believes Georgia is ready for significant action – and perhaps state funding – of public transportation. At a panel discussion on mass transit in Georgia Monday, Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, said he’s &ldquo...
Georgia blocks $100 million in fraudulent tax returns, so far, in 2017

Georgia blocks $100 million in fraudulent tax returns, so far, in 2017

Despite major data breaches such as the one at Equifax, tax agencies — including the Georgia Department of Revenue — are reporting increasing success in the war to stop fraudulent returns from turning into big money for crooks. Department of Revenue Commissioner Lynne Riley said the state has blocked $108 million worth of fraudulent returns so far this year. That’s up dramatically...
Georgia Rep. Betty Price responds to critics on HIV quarantine query

Georgia Rep. Betty Price responds to critics on HIV quarantine query

Georgia Rep. Betty Price, in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday, said her comments on people with HIV that ignited a national firestorm this week were “taken completely out of context.” Price, the wife of former U.S. health secretary Tom Price, was in a study committee Tuesday when she asked a state health official whether people with HIV could legally be quarantined...
Georgia Capitol Hill remake could include road closings, new annex

Georgia Capitol Hill remake could include road closings, new annex

State officials are planning the next phase of Capitol Hill renovations, which could include closing and rerouting streets, building a new multi-story annex, replacing an old overhead bridge and doing a historic remake of the statehouse.It also could eventually mean moving 3,000 state employees out of a troubled Peachtree Street tower.
Georgia Democratic candidate deletes ‘embarrassing’ Facebook posts

Georgia Democratic candidate deletes ‘embarrassing’ Facebook posts

A Democratic candidate for a metro Atlanta state Senate seat last week deleted years-old comments made on social media after being accused of being anti-gay and misogynistic. Jaha Howard, a dentist who last year was the only Democrat to run against state Sen. Hunter Hill and came within 4 percentage points of the incumbent, said he was embarrassed and disappointed by comments he posted on Facebook...
Nashville – an Atlanta competitor – ups the ante on transit investment

Nashville – an Atlanta competitor – ups the ante on transit investment

Nashville’s mayor has proposed a $5.2 billion mass transit expansion. (Alan Poizner / The Tennessean) Metro Atlanta political leaders are beginning to sing the same song in support of mass transit. But the region’s economic competitors are not standing back to watch. On Tuesday Nashville Mayor Megan Barry unveiled a $5.2 billion mass transit plan. According to...
Obamacare rollbacks a political weapon in Georgia

Obamacare rollbacks a political weapon in Georgia

Hours before U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray announced a bipartisan deal on health care subsidies, in Atlanta the state’s Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference on just that issue. The gathering of legislators, who assembled to lambaste President Donald Trump’s announcement late Thursday that he was canceling key Obamacare subsidies, underscores just how potent a...
Georgia high court upholds law governing health care facilities

Georgia high court upholds law governing health care facilities

In a win for politically powerful hospital interests, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the state’s “certificate of need” law in an opinion issued Monday that said a surgical center could not expand without state approval. Two doctors who own the Georgia Advanced Surgery Center for Women in Cartersville had challenged the state law that governs health care facilities. Dr. Hugo D....
Hurricane Irma forces halt to marketing of homes on Sea Island spit

Hurricane Irma forces halt to marketing of homes on Sea Island spit

Developers have halted marketing of the site of proposed upscale housing on an undeveloped piece of land on Sea Island after Hurricane Irma damaged the property. Sea Island President Scott Steilen said the storm damaged part of the unprotected area of the island off the Georgia coast. Environmentalists counter that at The Reserve at Sea Island, the damage is man-made — by Sea Island Co...
Board urges caution about allowing aquifer storage in Georgia

Board urges caution about allowing aquifer storage in Georgia

Members of the state’s Board of Natural Resources on Wednesday urged Georgia environmental protection officials to be careful about allowing surface water storage in underground aquifers. Board members did so after receiving a report from the state’s Environmental Protection Division detailing its authority to allow and manage a procedure known as “aquifer storage and recovery...
Legislative committee takes look at Georgia’s rules for stream buffers

Legislative committee takes look at Georgia’s rules for stream buffers

Citing confusing regulation of development near streams, Georgia Senate Natural Resources Chairman Frank Ginn said the state needs to look at potential changes to how it approves buffers near the bodies of water. The Danielsville Republican said he hopes a 17-member panel of lawmakers, officials with the state Environmental Protection Division and other water quality experts is able to sort out...
Deal jokes about Florida’s ‘hard time’ in water battle against Georgia

Deal jokes about Florida’s ‘hard time’ in water battle against Georgia

A day after the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear oral arguments in the ongoing water battle between Georgia and Florida, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal seemed to like his state’s chances.  During an annual environmental address at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Deal rattled off statistics about Georgia and metro Atlanta’s reduction in per capita water use in recent...
Lawsuit claims Georgia DOT improperly awarded $28 million in contracts

Lawsuit claims Georgia DOT improperly awarded $28 million in contracts

A pavement striping company has accused the Georgia Department of Transportation of improperly awarding contracts worth a combined $28 million. In a lawsuit filed last month in Fulton County Superior Court, Peek Pavement Marking says two rival bidders that won pavement striping contracts did not meet minimum requirements to receive the work. It says GDOT awarded them the contracts anyway, violating...
Georgia lawmakers: Don’t politicize Vegas, but new gun laws possible

Georgia lawmakers: Don’t politicize Vegas, but new gun laws possible

Georgia is a haven for gun owners, hunters and collectors, and state officials have long issued protections for those individuals: Almost every year, a bill is pushed in the Legislature to make it easier to buy or carry weapons. State lawmakers don’t expect that to change, even as they have decried efforts to politicize the Law Vegas shootings. “What happened in Las Vegas is a horrific...
What a top Republican told MARTA CEO Keith Parker when he announced he’s leaving

What a top Republican told MARTA CEO Keith Parker when he announced he’s leaving

The MARTA Board of Directors bids farewell to CEO Keith Parker Thursday. Many have praised MARTA CEO Keith Parker since he announced he is leaving the agency. In his five years at MARTA, Parker is credited with shoring up the finances of an agency on the verge of insolvency, improving relations with an often-hostile General Assembly and paving the way for MARTA expansions...
Lawsuit claims Georgia House districts drawn to remove minority voters

Lawsuit claims Georgia House districts drawn to remove minority voters

Voters opposed to a 2015 redistricting plan have filed a second federal lawsuit claiming Georgia illegally “gerrymandered” two state House districts by moving minority voters out of areas represented by vulnerable white Republican lawmakers. The suit, filed Tuesday by 11 residents who live in and around those districts in metro Atlanta, said that the boundary lines of the seats held by...
An Athens mayor is exiled in a fraught test of bipartisanship

An Athens mayor is exiled in a fraught test of bipartisanship

Athens Mayor Nancy Denson has been a member of the local Democratic Party for more than three decades. She identifies as a Democrat, and she’s held a string of fundraisers for prominent party figures at her home over the years. But at a testy meeting this week at an Athens library, Denson was ousted from the local party’s committee for an affront many fellow Democrats considered unforgivable...
AJC Watchdog: Florida nursing home deaths could have happened here

AJC Watchdog: Florida nursing home deaths could have happened here

Eleven deaths in a Hollywood, Fla., nursing home are blamed on excessively high temperatures during the power outages caused by Hurricane Irma. Following the tragedy, Gov. Rick Scott directed state officials to enact emergency regulations requiring the state’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities to have generators and 96-hours of fuel on hand to run the air conditioner during power...
Bipartisan duo proposes compromise on Civil War symbols after ‘go missing’ warning sparks controversy

Bipartisan duo proposes compromise on Civil War symbols after ‘go missing’ warning sparks controversy

State Rep. Jason Spencer and former state Rep. LaDawn Jones discuss their proposal for Civil War monuments. AJC/Ryon Horne The bipartisan duo behind a racially-charged Facebook exchange about the debate over removing some of Georgia’s most prominent Civil War monuments have reached a compromise over how to handle the divisive symbols. And now they hope lawmakers can ...
Decatur Commission backs removal of Rebel monument on city’s square

Decatur Commission backs removal of Rebel monument on city’s square

Decatur, if allowed by state law, could be among the first Georgia communities to move a Confederate monument. The City Commission recently voted unanimously to approve a resolution to remove a roughly 30-foot-tall obelisk from its city square. The catch, however, is that the monument, located behind the former DeKalb County Courthouse, is owned by the county. There’s also the matter of a state...
Rural Georgia hospitals see few benefits, so far, from tax credits

Rural Georgia hospitals see few benefits, so far, from tax credits

State lawmakers thought they’d found a way to help struggling rural hospitals by offering $180 million in tax credits to Georgians willing to donate to them, but the program has gotten off to a slow start. The state allocated a third of the tax credits for this year and legislators passed a bill increasing incentives to donors, but by mid-September, only a little more than $3 million had been...
Lawmakers begin talks about how to replace Georgia’s aging vote system

Lawmakers begin talks about how to replace Georgia’s aging vote system

A handful of lawmakers began the discussion Friday about what it might take to move Georgia to a new election system, an important but incremental step toward replacing the state’s aging voting machines. The meeting of the state House Science and Technology Committee represents a start. Any decision will likely take a few years and, depending on the type of system officials pick, could...
Longtime farms chief Tommy Irvin dies

Longtime farms chief Tommy Irvin dies

Tommy Irvin, a former agriculture commissioner who was the longest-serving statewide official in Georgia history, died on Thursday. He was 88.  Irvin served in public office for more than a half-century, including 42 years as Georgia’s top agriculture official. Details about his death have not been released, but Irvin had suffered from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. ...
A look at who’s qualifying for Georgia’s open legislative races in 2017

A look at who’s qualifying for Georgia’s open legislative races in 2017

Paper flies in the air after as the Legislature ends another session. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM Qualifying began Wednesday for about a half-dozen open state legislative seats, and a range of candidates have jumped into the races. The elections are set for Nov. 7 — the same day as the Atlanta mayoral race and other local votes around the state. A full list of all the...
South Dakota ruling may boost Georgia online tax push

South Dakota ruling may boost Georgia online tax push

A state Supreme Court ruling Thursday in South Dakota may prove a boost to Georgia’s efforts to get all retailers to collect sales taxes when they sell products online. South Dakota officials were hoping for a quick ruling in their state Supreme Court on legislation requiring internet companies to remit sales taxes. The bill was passed as a legal challenge to a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court...
Georgia governor pledges not to ‘over-ask’ the feds for Irma aid

Georgia governor pledges not to ‘over-ask’ the feds for Irma aid

Boats along with sections of dock are scattered in the marsh, some sitting on the bottom, after Hurricane Irma on Tuesday, September 12, 2017, at St. Marys on the Georgia coast. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com Gov. Nathan Deal pledged that the state won’t “over-ask” the federal government for aid to help pay for recovery efforts from the remnants of Hurricane Irma...
First insurance “claims village” set for Georgia coast post-Irma

First insurance “claims village” set for Georgia coast post-Irma

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens announced Wednesday that his office will open its first “claims village” in Brunswick next week to help homeowners and business owners get their insurance claims expedited. Hudgens was touring coastal areas Wednesday assessing damages from Irma, meeting with storm victims and local officials. The commissioner set up similar mobile &ldquo...
After Irma, Georgia candidate qualifying to begin Wednesday

After Irma, Georgia candidate qualifying to begin Wednesday

With Georgia drying out from Tropical Storm Irma, business is set to get back to normal Wednesday morning in Atlanta when candidate qualifying opens for several open seats in the state Legislature. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in advance of the storm had announced a two-day delay. Qualifying was originally supposed to start Monday. The new schedule means qualifying for interested...
As Irma approaches, Georgia’s new emergency team prepares

As Irma approaches, Georgia’s new emergency team prepares

Gov. Nathan Deal’s overhauled storm response strategy — and his new head of the state’s emergency management agency — face what could be their most significant weather-related challenge yet as Hurricane Irma barrels toward the Atlantic coast. The Category 5 storm, with lashing winds topping 185 miles an hour, is one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded, and it&rsquo...
Kempner: Georgia elected officials face a nuclear ultimatum

Kempner: Georgia elected officials face a nuclear ultimatum

Georgia “We’ve-Got-All-The” Power has just offered elected state regulators an all-or-nothing deal. As in, Georgia Power gets it all or its customers get nothing. The state’s largest utility, which is a government-regulated monopoly, recently launched its latest campaign to continue its long-troubled, billions-of-dollars-over-budget nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle, this...
New report: Georgia corporate income tax bite softer than most

New report: Georgia corporate income tax bite softer than most

President Trump has called for a big cut in the federal corporate income tax rate, and plenty of Georgia lawmakers would like to do the same to the state corporate levy. But a report out this week by the Washington D.C.-based Tax Foundation said Georgia collects less from its citizens in corporate income taxes than most other states. The Tax Foundation ranked Georgia 39th, collecting the equivalent...
Senate to meet on barriers to health care in Georgia

Senate to meet on barriers to health care in Georgia

On Monday the Georgia Senate plans to hold its first study committee meeting on barriers to health care access in the state. A star addition to the panel is Dr. Karen Kinsell, who runs a clinic in Clay County. Her clinic serves as the only real health care many residents there ever see. She has often been interviewed by media over the years, but nothing hit home like a first-person narrative...
Cagle’s rivals slam his ‘flip-flop’ on booze legislation

Cagle’s rivals slam his ‘flip-flop’ on booze legislation

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s Republican rivals didn’t take too kindly to his celebration of new alcohol rules that took effect last week. We noted earlier that Friday was a watershed moment in the evolution of GOP politics and alcohol. It was also a chance for former state Sen. Hunter Hill and state Sen. Michael Williams...
‘Clean 13’ lauded by environmental and conservation groups in Georgia

‘Clean 13’ lauded by environmental and conservation groups in Georgia

The Georgia Water Coalition released a new report Wednesday applauding the “Clean 13,’” people, businesses, local governments and others from across the state that it says are working to make local waterways cleaner. Honorees include the powerful state House Rules Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun, who is pushing legislation to update the state’s oil and gas drilling...
Stacey Evans steps down from House to concentrate on gov bid

Stacey Evans steps down from House to concentrate on gov bid

State Rep. Stacey Evans, D – Smyrna. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com Democrat Stacey Evans resigned her state House seat on Tuesday to focus on her bid for governor, the latest in a string of candidates for higher office to step down from a statehouse post. In a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal and legislative leaders, the Smyrna attorney said she has “stood up for the voiceless, spoken...
Georgia video games spawn charges of payoffs, bribery and betrayal

Georgia video games spawn charges of payoffs, bribery and betrayal

An envelope stuffed with cash. Under-the-table payoffs. Backstabbing treachery over contracts worth millions. Welcome to the underbelly of Georgia’s $675 million-a-year video gaming industry, which produces enough accusations of fraud and corruption to fill a season of “The Sopranos.” The new enforcement responsibility has exposed the Lottery to a messy underworld in which companies...
You can now buy beer, spirits directly from its makers in Georgia

You can now buy beer, spirits directly from its makers in Georgia

Let Georgia’s new happy hour begin: For the first time since Prohibition, local craft breweries and distilleries, beginning Friday, will be legally allowed to sell limited amounts of their beer and spirits directly to customers. The new law ends a decades-old standoff that had been especially tense between the state’s growing number of craft brewers and beer wholesalers, who fought...
A new judicial complex will soon soar above downtown Atlanta

A new judicial complex will soon soar above downtown Atlanta

Georgia officials broke ground Thursday on a judicial complex that could wind up being the costliest building in state history. The new state courts building will house the newly expanded Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals with a commanding view of the Gold Dome across the street. The complex, which is set to cost at least $105 million, was built on the spot where the Georgia Archives...
Georgia gears up for fraught legislative debate on Rebel monuments

Georgia gears up for fraught legislative debate on Rebel monuments

With legs crossed and hands clutching the arms of its chair, a white marble effigy of Georgian Alexander H. Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, sits only 10 or so feet away from a bronze statue of civil rights hero Rosa Parks in the U.S. Capitol. More than 600 miles away, on the grounds of Georgia’s state Capitol, a sparkling new monument of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. rises...
More safeguards could be considered for coal ash ponds in Georgia

More safeguards could be considered for coal ash ponds in Georgia

Lawmakers concerned about how coal ash is disposed of hinted Tuesday that they may consider more safeguards over how state environmental officials monitor its presence in landfills and ash ponds across Georgia. Coal ash is a waste product of burning coal that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic. While Georgia Power, the state’s leading energy supplier, is in the process...
Torpy at Large: Democracy divided should not stand

Torpy at Large: Democracy divided should not stand

The electoral insanity that was the 6th Congressional District race this year was a wild aberration in Georgia, a man-bites-dog story, if you will. No, it wasn’t that the candidates spent more than some countries spend on defense budgets. It was that a congressional race in Georgia ended up this close. Republican warhorse Karen Handel beat Democratic boy wonder Jon Ossoff by 4 points. Any closer...
Georgia governor to consider adding diversity on Stone Mountain’s board

Georgia governor to consider adding diversity on Stone Mountain’s board

The board that governs state-owned Stone Mountain Park and preserves the nation’s largest monument to Confederate war dead has only white members, something Gov. Nathan Deal said he may consider changing. Deal said he hadn’t realized that each of the 10 members of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association board was white and he said “we’d certainly be open” to tapping an...
Low-cost water quality sensors will soon be deployed across Georgia

Low-cost water quality sensors will soon be deployed across Georgia

A new network of low-cost water quality sensors will soon be deployed across Georgia, after federal environmental officials agreed to fund a program to help track the health of local waterways. Worth the equivalent of a $27,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the program aims to build upon sampling already done in the state by using cheaper sensors that continuously...
A Georgia regulator on why finishing Vogtle is a matter of national security

A Georgia regulator on why finishing Vogtle is a matter of national security

Photo from Plant Vogtle construction site on Thursday, May 11, 2016. Johnny Edwards / AJC The troubled construction of two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle is now the only commercial nuclear project underway in the nation, and Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols has been one of the most forceful advocates of keeping it alive despite mounting financial questions. In an ...
A front-runner again, Cagle hits the campaign trail

A front-runner again, Cagle hits the campaign trail

The breakfast crowd is rolling into The Wagon Wheel, where Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is busy tuning up his campaign for governor. He’s backslapping supporters, greeting old friends — “the best-looking man in all of Lumpkin County,” he razzes a retiree — and generally trying to present the image of an affable front-runner in a crowded field. “When you are the lead person...
Watchdog: Is Georgia whistling ‘Dixie’ on sovereign immunity?

Watchdog: Is Georgia whistling ‘Dixie’ on sovereign immunity?

Earlier this summer, the Georgia Supreme Court issued a sweeping, unanimous opinion that the state is immune from lawsuits, a precedent that brought cries of tyranny from the left and right. The Georgia justices pinned their analysis to a centuries-old tradition in English law called “sovereign immunity” — a legal theory that the king (or, in our case, Gov. Nathan Deal and the...
Cagle, other GOP hopefuls pledge to sign ‘religious liberty’ measure

Cagle, other GOP hopefuls pledge to sign ‘religious liberty’ measure

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and his three Republican rivals signed a pledge that they would enact a “religious liberty” measure if they’re elected governor, taking a united stance on one of the most contentious debates in Georgia. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sens. Hunter Hill and Michael Williams had already signaled their support for the pledge. But Cagle’s decision to...
Did Confederate constitution of 1861 spur sovereign immunity ruling?

Did Confederate constitution of 1861 spur sovereign immunity ruling?

An opinion by the Georgia Supreme Court this summer that the state cannot be sued by citizens has its share of critics, but an Athens attorney has a novel complaint. Stephen Humphreys, who has sued state officials a number of times on behalf of his clients, said the court erred by basing the decision, in part, on an interpretation of the Georgia Constitution written during the Civil War by the...
Meet the rural attorney who is now the Georgia House’s top Democrat

Meet the rural attorney who is now the Georgia House’s top Democrat

To say that state Rep. Bob Trammell cuts a low profile in the General Assembly is an understatement. He has never carried major legislation, is rarely heard on the airwaves or seen in print and had only taken to the House’s well-worn podium a handful of times, largely to rail against campus gun legislation. But now the Luthersville attorney is the leading Democrat in the House after a surprising...
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