Politics

Politics
6:05 pm
Fri July 31, 2015

Atlanta NAACP, SCLC: Gov. Deal Won't Talk Confederate Symbols

SCLC President Charles Steele Jr., center, said he and the NAACP are ready to meet with Gov. Nathan Deal. NAACP attorney Gerald Griggs, left, and Atlanta NAACP President Richard Rose, right, held the press conference with Steele to discuss their concerns over Confederate symbols in the state.
Credit Lisa Hagen / WABE

Leaders with the Atlanta NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference say Gov. Nathan Deal declined a meeting to discuss what they say is state sponsorship of Confederate symbols.

They said the Confederate flags found at Ebenezer Baptist Church in downtown Atlanta have only intensified the need for dialogue.

It's an issue of state law. Talk to lawmakers. That's been Gov. Deal's response to previous requests to discuss changes to Georgia's Confederate symbols, including the ones at Stone Mountain Park.

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Politics
11:58 am
Thu July 30, 2015

Gwinnett County Bans New Digital Billboards

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted Tuesday night to ban the construction of new digital billboards in unincorporated Gwinnett, unless a company tears down three static, or paper, billboards first. Digital billboards resemble ballpark jumbo video displays but scroll through several static ads each minute.
Credit Dirk Lammers / Associated Press

There may soon be fewer billboards in Gwinnett County. 

Commissioners voted Tuesday night to ban the construction of new digital billboards in unincorporated Gwinnett, unless a company tears down three static, or paper, billboards first.

The goal is to prevent driving distractions and reduce visual clutter.

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Politics
5:24 pm
Tue July 28, 2015

Georgia Sues Website For Publishing State's Annotated Laws

The state of Georgia is suing a website for publishing the Official Code of Georgia Annotated online. It is available in XML format and scanned copies of the volumes are also available on Archive.org.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

The state of Georgia filed a lawsuit against the owner of the website, Public.Resource.org, for publishing the annotated version of the Georgia State code online. 

The owner of the website, Carl Malamud, argues these notes to the law should be free and accessible to the public.

Annotations

The annotations include important notes ─ like when laws were changed and short summaries of court cases that help judges and lawyers interpret state laws. 

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A Closer Look
2:52 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Ga.'s Sam Nunn: Nuke Deal Prevents Iran From Getting Weapon

Former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, center, has been monitoring global nuclear issues, risks and threats for years through his nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative. He supports the new nuclear deal with Iran.
Credit Katie King / for WABE

Congress has convened hearings this week on the new nuclear agreement reached among Iran, the United States and five other countries. The deal includes restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an end to some of the toughest sanctions against the country.

Republicans, including both of Georgia's U.S. senators, have expressed either serious doubts or outright opposition to the agreement, and Israel's government has called it a historic mistake. 

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A Closer Look
4:47 pm
Thu July 23, 2015

Public Hearings Examine Use Of Independent Contractors

Truckers who haul freight around Georgia ports testified at a public hearing this week by the State Senate Study Committee on how independent contractors are classified.
Credit raymondclarkeimages / flickr.com/raymondclarkeimages

Georgia lawmakers are looking into the use of independent contractors and how those contractors are actually classified by the businesses that employ them.

A study by the National Employment Labor Project estimates nearly one in every three workers in the U.S. is misclassified. That can mean a loss of pay and benefits for  employees.

And, in fact, that’s what a number of truckers in Georgia contend is happening to them

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Politics
4:09 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Decatur Residents Concerned About Loss Of Diversity

The Beacon Municipal Center in Decatur includes tributes to what used to be a primarily African-American neighborhood that no longer exists.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Decatur residents are concerned. Home prices are rising, and the city is losing its African-American population.

On Monday night, city commissioners voted to approve a $109,000 contract to hold public meetings about how to keep the city diverse, welcoming and affordable over the next six months. The goal is to come up with a Community Action Plan document for city commissioners to adopt. 

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Technology
1:22 pm
Tue July 21, 2015

Advocacy Group Seeks Exception On Ga. Capitol Drone Ban

Drones are displayed at the National Press Club in Washington. The nonprofit Drone Advocates for Public Safety in Atlanta wrote a letter to the governor asking him to exempt law enforcement and emergency responder drones from the 5-mile ban around the state Capitol building's heliport and the Governor's Mansion.
Credit Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press

During Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, retired Army Lieutenant General Russel L. Honore was commander of the Joint Task Force. He says drones could have saved lives in 2005.

"It would have gotten places that we had a hard time getting to, and it could cover more ground than two people walking down the street," Honore said. 

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A Closer Look
7:21 pm
Mon July 20, 2015

Ga. Pollster: Trump Comments Could Draw Southern Support

Billionaire developer and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump is making no apologies for remarks he made about Sen. John McCain's war record over the weekend.
Credit Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

Real estate and media mogul Donald Trump has been in the headlines for weeks now after declaring his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and he’s back in the spotlight today after remarks over the weekend about Arizona Sen. John McCain’s war record.

A political frenzy erupted Saturday after Trump said McCain was not a war hero.

InsiderAdvantage CEO, political columnist and pollster Matt Towery said during an interview on  “A Closer Look” that there is a sizable element in the Republican party that “does not care for John McCain at all.”

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A Closer Look
6:36 pm
Mon July 20, 2015

Georgia Democratic Congressman Slams Iran Nuke Deal

U.S Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, center, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, arrive at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria, on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 after reaching agreement on a nuclear deal.
Credit Carlos Barria / AP Photo

The United States and five other countries reached an historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program last week after months of negotiations.

The deal includes restrictions on Iran's nuclear program and requires regular inspections. In exchange, world powers will drop some of the toughest sanctions against Iran.

Georgia Democratic Congressman David Scott opposes the agreement.

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A Closer Look
6:47 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

Ga. House Speaker Seeks ‘Pastor Protection’ Bill On Gay Marriage

State House Speaker David Ralston has proposed a pastor protection bill that would prevent the government from forcing church leaders to perform same-sex marriages.
Credit John Bazemore / AP Photo

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage has led to a number of questions on what exactly the ruling will mean for religious leaders who refuse to marry gay couples based on their religious convictions.

When it comes to pastors and other religious leaders in Georgia, a lawmaker has proposed a pastor protection bill that would prevent the government from forcing church leaders to perform same-sex marriages.

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Politics
5:42 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

Fayette Residents Continue Fight Against At-Large Voting

A group of residents in Fayette County is continuing to wage a fight against the county's voting procedures.

On Tuesday night, the Fayette County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to proceed with at-large voting to fill a county commission seat after the recent death of the county’s first black commissioner.  

Two years ago, a federal judge ordered the county to implement district-voting and to create a minority district, saying the county’s at-large voting method prevented black voters from choosing a candidate of their choice.  

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A Closer Look
4:13 pm
Thu July 16, 2015

MGM Resorts Ready To Roll The Dice On Casinos In Atlanta

What are the odds that Atlanta will get a casino resort complex now that MGM has offered up a $1 billion proposal? It's still an uncertain gamble, given the political climate on gambling in Georgia.
Credit Ted Murphy / www.flickr.com/tedmurphy/

Top casino operator MGM International is proposing a $1 billion mega gambling and entertainment complex in downtown Atlanta.

Supporters say the project would generate millions in tax revenue, create high-paying jobs and raise millions more for the beleaguered HOPE scholarship fund.

But legislation introduced earlier this year to allow casino gambling in Georgia is facing an uphill battle with Gov. Nathan Deal and in the State Legislature.

That isn’t stopping the giant casino companies from eyeing Atlanta as an untapped gambling market.

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A Closer Look
4:29 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

Jimmy Carter Talks Iran Deal, Confederate Flag, His 'Full Life'

Former President Jimmy Carter has published a new book called “A Full Life.” In it, he reflects on his public and private life and discusses some of the high and lows of a life in public service.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Former President Jimmy Carter isn’t slowing down. At 90-years-old, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, international humanitarian and former Georgia governor is still working through his Atlanta-based Carter Center to eradicate diseases in some of the most impoverished places in the world and to ensure free elections in countries across the globe.

Carter, the 39th President of the United States, won the presidency in 1976; then he lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

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Politics
6:30 am
Wed July 15, 2015

Presidential Candidate Scott Walker Pays Visit To Georgia

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker waves to supporters after announcing that he is running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination at the Waukesha County Expo Center July 13, 2015, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Credit Morry Gash / Associated Press

The latest Republican to declare his candidacy for president, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, will be in Atlanta Wednesday.

He is among the 15 high-profile Republicans hoping to with the party's nomination.

Georgia is a well-established "red" state. Bill Clinton was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win in Georgia, and it was by a slim margin.

Many political analysts predict Georgia will likely go GOP again next year.

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A Closer Look
6:23 pm
Tue July 14, 2015

Atlanta City Auditor: Permitting Office Poses ‘Legal Risk’

The city of Atlanta permit office accumulated at $28 million surplus in 2014. That revenue hasn't been spent to speed up operations.
Credit Drew Waddell / flickr.com/Drew Waddell

A new report from the City of Atlanta auditor raises questions about the city office that issues building permits. 

This comes after allegations that some members of the permitting staff were playing favorites.

Two years ago, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed increased permit fees. That extra money was meant to go back into the permits office to speed up operations. 

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A Closer Look
5:14 pm
Tue July 14, 2015

MLK Statue’s Future Uncertain After Death Of Ga. Sculptor

Sculptor Andy Davis, 53, sits outside his studio in Henry County. Davis died from injuries suffered from a vehicular accident Sunday.
Credit Courtesy of Andy Davis / andydavisgallery.com

The untimely death of Georgia artist Andy Davis last weekend in a traffic accident in Henry County has left the future of a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of the state Capitol uncertain.

After years of lobbying by African-American leaders, Gov. Nathan Deal finally agreed to the statue and chose Davis last month to create a likeness of King for the Capitol’s Liberty Plaza.

Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat from Columbus, was also selected by Deal as a coordinator for the project.

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Politics
11:10 am
Mon July 13, 2015

Ga. Senator Wants To Double Distance Between Crematories, Homes

Jeff Crowell is the owner of funeral homes in Peachtree Corners and Buford. His funeral home in Buford already has a crematory installed, and he's trying to install a crematory at his funeral home in Peachtree Corners. 

But Republican Sen. Brandon Beach of Alpharetta says he plans to file a bill to double the distance allowed between a crematory and residential area from 1,000 to 2,000 feet.

"That means you've got to be a half a mile from any home," Crowell says. "Where in the world can you find a place in metro-Atlanta where you're that far away from a home?" 

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Politics
1:20 pm
Thu July 9, 2015

Sen. David Perdue On Army Cuts, Iran And Donald Trump

On “A Closer Look,” Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue talked about recent job cuts in the U.S. Army.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

On Wednesday, the U.S. Army announced plans to cut manpower by 40,000 soldiers nationwide over the next two years.

A total of 4,350 soldier positions would be lost in Georgia, at Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon.

That was just one development in what has been a busy week in Washington, D.C. A deadline is approaching for the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and Republican presidential candidates are considering how to respond to fellow candidate Donald Trump's controversial comments on Mexican immigrants.

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A Closer Look
3:13 pm
Wed July 8, 2015

Sen. Johnny Isakson: Iran Talks ‘Bad Deal’

Georgia’s Republican U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson says the possible agreement with Iran over it’s nuclear program is a “bad deal for America.”
Credit Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

The deadline for negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal is Friday. Other deadlines in negotiations have already come and gone. The United States is among the group known as the P5 + 1 trying to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Members of Congress have expressed concern over the secretive nature of the negotiations. They are also at odds with President Barack Obama over the talks and issues relating to a possible nuclear agreement.

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Road Projects
6:02 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Ga. Road Projects Could Stall If Congress Doesn’t Reach Deal

If Congress doesn't reach an agreement on the federal Highway Trust Fund, Georgia could have to reduce the number of highway projects it moves forward with starting in September.
Credit April Williams / WABE

Congress has until the end of the month to find a way to replenish the ailing Highway Trust Fund. If federal lawmakers don’t reach an agreement, it could affect Georgia highway projects.

The state says it has the $300 million needed to move forward with road projects for the next two months. But if Congress can't figure out a short- or long-term fix for highway funding, Georgia would have to delay a number of the projects it has planned for the rest of the year. 

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A Closer Look
3:07 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Ga.’s Transportation, Medicaid Funding Challenges Not Unique

Georgia lawmakers passed a $1 billion transportation bill in 2015 that included the first tax hikes in years.
Credit Gregor Smith / flickr.com/flc

When the Georgia legislature voted this year to raise taxes to pay for transportation projects, it was partly due to Congressional inaction over how to continue a federal highway trust fund.

That challenge was symbolic of what other states have faced, not only for highway projects, but with other issues including state Medicaid funding and income inequality.

On “A Closer Look,” Jeffrey Stinson, the editor of Stateline, which reports and analyzes trends in state policy, said federal political gridlock in Washington has had an adverse effect on many states.

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Politics
12:02 pm
Mon July 6, 2015

Cruz, Huckabee Go Head-To-Head For Evangelical Votes

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, from left, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gather on stage after speak at the Homeschool Iowa's Capitol Day April 9, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Credit Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee are going head-to-head for evangelical votes.

The two men shared a stage Sunday at the Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia, where they told hundreds of members that the United States is favored by God and that the nation is on a perilous spiritual path. Both men cited the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage as proof.

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A Closer Look
11:58 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Ga. ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill Sponsor Vows To Continue Fight

The bill sponsored by Georgia state Sen. Josh McKoon (left), passed the Senate but not the House in the 2015 session
Credit Branden Camp / Associated Press

 

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down bans on same-sex marriage in Georgia and other states has raised a new debate.

One of the many questions is whether the decision will have any effect on the fight over the bill titled the Georgia Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

On “A Closer Look,” the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), provided an update on his plans to re-introduce that measure and related topics.

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Technology
10:20 am
Thu July 2, 2015

Ga. Residents Can Now Get Financing For Rooftop Solar Panels

A small loader moves and lifts solar panels in Walton County. In Georgia, residents will be able to install and finance solar panels on their property through third-party lenders.
Credit Courtesy of Greg Brooks / Walton EMC

Putting solar panels on your rooftop just became way more affordable: Customers can now pay for just the power they get from the solar panels.

A new law took effect Wednesday that allows financing for residents who want to lease rooftop solar panels.

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Business
1:15 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

Ga. Breweries Can Now Give Away More Craft Beer

The Eventide Brewing tasting room was opened a couple of weeks ago because of the new state law that allows breweries to give visitors beer to take home with them.
Credit Courtesy of Eventide Brewing

Starting Wednesday, Georgians will be able to take up to 72 ounces of craft beer home from a brewery, but only after they take a tour.

They can also now taste three full beers on the tour. That's four ounces more than before.

"We are thrilled and even though it's not exactly what we wanted, we've been gearing up for the last couple of weeks," says Nick Purdy, the president of Wild Heaven Craft Beers in Avondale Estates.

What breweries really wanted was direct sales. But Georgia's beer distributors' lobbied hard against them in the state Legislature.

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Politics
8:00 am
Wed July 1, 2015

U.S. Government Auctioning Off Bridal Dresses In Atlanta

Among the items up for auction at an Atlanta warehouse is a Pallas Athena ivory wedding gown with pearl and sequin beading.
Credit Courtesy of U.S. General Services Administration

After a bridal shop owner in Alaska was sentenced on drug trafficking charges, nearly 3,000 items were seized by the U.S. Marshals Service and transported to a warehouse in Atlanta.

It's now being auctioned off online by the U.S. General Services Administration, which helps agencies get rid of surplus property.

Kristy Tubbs drove down from Fredericksburg, Virginia on Tuesday to see it in person. She plans to bid on 16 items. 

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Politics
7:00 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

Johns Creek Mayor To Lead Georgia Municipal Association

The mayor of the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek will serve as president of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Authorities say Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker on Sunday was sworn in as the 83rd president of the association during the group's annual conference in Savannah.

The Georgia Municipal Association represents municipal governments in Georgia.

Politics
1:33 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Georgia Attorney General Chosen For Leadership Position

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has been elected to head the southern region of the National Association of Attorneys General.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

 Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens has been elected to head the southern region of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Olens' office said in a news release Monday that Olens was elected chair by attorneys general from the other southern states during the national organization's meeting earlier this month in San Diego.

The organization's southern region includes 13 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

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Braves Stadium Bonds
11:15 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Georgia High Court Says Bonds For Braves Stadium Are Valid

An aerial rendering of SunTrust Park in Cobb County.
Credit Atlanta Braves

 

The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the authorization of up to $397 million in bonds to build a new baseball stadium for the Braves in Cobb County.

Three Cobb County residents opposed the authorization and appealed a Cobb County Superior Court ruling approving the bond issuance to the high court.

The unanimous opinion published Monday says an intergovernmental contract used to authorize the bonds is valid, that the issuance of the bonds does not violate Georgia's Constitution or revenue bond laws and that the process used to validate the bonds was not improper.

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Politics
11:04 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Justices Uphold Use Of Lethal Injection Drug

Credit Associated Press

The Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

The justices on Monday voted 5-4 in a case from Oklahoma that the sedative midazolam can be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The drug was used in executions in Arizona, Ohio and Oklahoma in 2014 that took longer than usual and raised concerns that it did not perform its intended task of putting inmates into a coma-like sleep.

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