Politics

Politics
8:18 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Messages for Georgia Republicans--and Democrats--in New Insider Advantage GOP Primary Poll

InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery
Credit InsiderAdvantage

  With just over a month remaining before the May 20, 2014 Georgia primary elections, InsiderAdvantage released a poll on the Republican contests for Governor and U.S. Senate.  

The numbers revealed some interesting trends, with implications not only for the Republican candidates, but for the Democrats the survivors will likely face in the November general elections.  

InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery spoke with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.

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Politics
7:57 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

The Wage Gap: Sorting Through Some Political Claims, with PolitiFact Georgia's Jim Tharpe

Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, which appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The male-female wage gap has become the focus of heated political debate in Georgia and around the nation.  

Political leaders in both parties have made some emphatic claims about whether the wage gap exists--and, if it does, how bad it is.  

Jim Tharpe, editor of PolitiFact Georgia, looked at whether some of those claims are true, in a conversation with WABE's Denis O'Hayer.  

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Phone Data Collection
6:05 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Former SCOTUS Judge Stevens Weighs In On Phone Data Collection

Speaking at Georgia State University Wednesday, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens weighed in on a controversial topic: the collection of telephone data.

Stevens said the use and storage of phone data to identify callers does not violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches. He cited his decision in the 1979 case Smith v. Maryland, in which the court ruled the instillation of a pen register (a device that records all numbers called from a particular phone) was not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.  

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Politics
5:51 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

Pennington Calls On Governor To Debate Or Step Down From Race

Former Dalton Mayor and gubernatorial candidate David Pennington.
Credit davidforgeorgia.com

Gubernatorial candidate David Pennington called on Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday to either agree to a formal debate or bow out of the Republican primary due to ethics issues.

Outside the governor’s office at the state Capitol, Pennington said if Deal doesn’t want a debate, he should carry out the rest of his term and leave it at that.

“Straighten out your legal, ethical, and financial problems in private because it’s obvious now you’re not able to perform as the chief executive officer of the state of Georgia.”

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Politics
5:30 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Nunn Outpacing Party Competition For US Senate Bid

Nonprofit CEO Michelle Nunn is outpacing her competition in the Democratic primary for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat, with more than $1 million more on hand than her three opponents.

Some state political analysts say that financial edge is playing a big role in how the former Points of Light chief is running her campaign.

With the primary election just about a month away, Republican candidates in the Senate race are busy courting party voters.

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Politics
5:47 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Deal Concerned About Lack of Transparency In Private Probation Bill

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Office of Gov. Nathan Deal

Critics say a bill under review by Gov. Nathan Deal would make it easier to lock up poor people for low-level offenses.

Deal hasn’t made up his mind about the overall bill, but he says at least part of it is cause for concern.

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Criminal Justice Reform
6:00 am
Mon April 14, 2014

Deal Signs Final Wave Of Criminal Justice Reforms Into Law

Gov. Nathan Deal signs the third and final stage of his criminal justice reforms into law Sunday at Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal Sunday signed into a law a bill to help ex-offenders re-enter society after prison, the third and final leg of sweeping criminal justice reforms that have defined his first term.

Backed by the Lee Arrendale State Prison Women’s Choir, Deal signed the bill during services at Antioch Baptist Church in his hometown of Gainesville.

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DeKalb County
5:15 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

May in "Precarious Position" Due to Legislative Measure Awaiting Governor's Signature

Lee May has served as DeKalb County's Interim CEO since Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him in July 2013 following the indictment of CEO Burrell Ellis.
Credit Lee May

A bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature requires the DeKalb County Commission to fill its District 5 seat temporarily.

However, that may not be a simple task.

  Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams helped push the bill through on the final day of the legislative session. She told WABE, “The impetus for this was resolving a flaw in the law, as I see it, for dealing with the removal of a person from active engagement of their job.”

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Medical Marijuana
4:46 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

State Lawmaker Says Medical Marijuana Legislation Still Needed

Credit Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon)

A state lawmaker is pleased Gov. Nathan Deal is taking steps to help children with seizure disorders potentially obtain an oil based form of medical marijuana. However, State Representative Allen Peake says there is still a need to make the oil legal in Georgia.

On Thursday, Gov. Deal said an FDA clinical trial being done by a private company could potentially be expanded along with the help of Georgia Regents University. It would allow some Georgia children with seizure disorders to receive a pure form of cannabis oil.

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Politics
8:18 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Georgia Ranks 32nd in Election Performance, According to New Pew Study

  On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, The Pew Charitable Trusts released its latest Election Performance Index, which looked at whether all 50 states improved their administration of elections between 2008 and 2012.  Georgia, which ranked 32nd, showed the biggest decline in the nation.  But state officials point to new initiatives, like the online voter registration program which was launched just days before the Pew report was released.

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Politics
4:02 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Deal Proposes Ethics Overhaul As Opponents Remain On Attack

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Office of Gov. Nathan Deal

Citing Georgia's "broken" campaign finance system, Gov. Nathan Deal is proposing an overhaul of the state ethics commission. 

He wants to expand the commission board from five members to 12. Currently, the governor appoints three members and the lieutenant governor and House speaker each appoint one. Deal’s proposal would give the executive, legislative, and judicial branches four appointments each.

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Politics
4:11 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Deal Denies Involvment in Ethics Case, Dismisses Conflict-of-Interest Claims

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal is facing fresh questions about his role in an ongoing saga at the state ethics commission.

Friday, a jury awarded former commission chief Stacey Kalberman more than $700,000 for wrongful termination. Kalberman alleged she and her top deputy were forced out because they were investigating Deal’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Deal said Sunday he has nothing to hide and dismissed a wave of criticism from his political opponents.

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Politics
6:00 am
Thu April 3, 2014

State Leaders Address Medical Marijuana Solutions

Credit Wikipedia

One of the most talked-about issues of this year’s Georgia General Assembly session was the medical marijuana bill.

The original bill focused on making available an oil-based form of marijuana for medical purposes. That failed. So did a watered-down measure that would have prevented prosecution for medicinal use.

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Politics
6:00 am
Wed April 2, 2014

In Crowded Primaries, How Do Candidates Break Away?

The May 20th primary election is less than two months away, and the primaries for U.S. Senate remain crowded with a total of 11 candidates between Democrats and Republicans.

So how do candidates set themselves apart in crowded races?

The short answer:  It comes down to money, said Steven Anthony, a political science lecturer at Georgia State University and former executive director of the state Democratic Party.

“It usually always does, and I don’t see this being any different,” Anthony said.

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Politics
8:57 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

CIA Interrogations, ACA Signups, Savannah Harbor & More: A Talk with Sen. Saxby Chambliss

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia)
Credit U.S. Senate

WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Republican Georgia U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss on March 31, 2014.  The conversation took place on a day when many Americans were rushing to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which Chambliss has opposed.

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Medical Marijuana
5:00 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Legal Expert Weighs in on Possible Medical Marijuana Fix

Credit The National Legal Aid & Defender Association

After a medical marijuana bill failed to reach his desk, Governor Deal said he would explore whether anything can be done before the next legislative session to allow Georgians with seizure disorders to legally use an oil based form of marijuana.

Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Ward Sears says she thinks it would be difficult for the governor to accomplish that through an executive order. But she says there might be something that can be done administratively.

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Politics
5:38 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

A Summary Of What's In Georgia's New Gun Law

A summary of the provisions of Georgia's new gun law, which is awaiting Gov. Deal's signature.
Credit Robert Aaron, WABE

Web Exclusive.

We have put together a summary of the key provisions of the new gun law that was passed in the waning hours of this year's General Assembly and which is now awaiting Gov. Deal's signature. The summary appears below as an image.

This is not an exhaustive summary of the bill's contents, and we are not lawyers. For more information and for the exact wording, please check the full text of the bill (HB 60) as passed by the Legislature (PDF).

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Push For Cityhood
4:43 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

State Rep. Says Atlanta Mayor Killed South Fulton Cityhood Bill

State Rep. Roger Bruce (right) discussing the South Fulton cityhood proposal with members of the Georgia Senate in early March 2014.
Credit Jonathan Shapiro, WABE

The state lawmaker who sponsored the push for South Fulton cityhood says the City of Atlanta scuttled his bill at the last minute.

State Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) says, diplomatically, he is “disappointed” the South Fulton cityhood bill died on the last day of the legislative session.

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Politics
10:52 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Associations Raise Concerns About Gun Bill on Gov. Deal's Desk

The Georgia Municipal Association says a gun bill passed by state lawmakers could be costly for a number of Georgia cities. The Association is also worried the bill could leave cities open to lawsuits. The bill is also drawing some concern from law enforcement officials.

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Politics
8:05 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

A Talk with Sponsor of Bill Requiring Drug Tests for Some Food Stamp Recipients

State Rep. Greg Morris (R-Vidalia)
Credit Ga. General Assembly

  On March 20, 2014, in the final hours of the legislative session, Georgia lawmakers passed HB 772, a bill which would require some food stamp recipients to submit to drug tests--if state officials have a reasonable suspicion that the recipients are using drugs.

The measure is a response to a recent Federal court ruling that threw out a Florida law requiring drug tests for welfare recipients.  Georgia had passed a similar bill in 2012, but had decided not to enforce it while the Florida challenge was pending.  The court's ruling means that the 2012 Georgia bill remains in limbo.

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1:40 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Looking Back, Shirley Franklin Regrets Not Doing More To Improve Social Mobility In Atlanta

Lead in text: 
Former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin said in an interview with National Journal that she regrets not working harder to improve social mobility in Atlanta. Looking back, she says she feels she could have pushed more to raise wages and to support education. In the interview, she also highlighted some of her accomplishments as mayor. Franklin is currently teaching at the University of Texas.
The Holy Grail in current political and economic debates is finding the best way to help more Americans move up the socioeconomic ladder. No one likes the idea of the American Dream being reduced to individuals stuck in the status to which they were born.
Politics
6:13 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Bill Easing Gun Restrictions Heads to Governor Deal

Lawmakers celebrate the end of the 2014 legislative session. The gun bill was one of the bills to gain final passage on day 40.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Unlike last year, House and Senate lawmakers this year reached a deal on legislation to expand gun rights in places like bars, churches, and some government buildings.  The bill now goes to Governor Deal’s desk.

The Georgia House agreed with the Senate Version of the bill during the last hour of legislative session. That led to this announcement by Senator Bill Heath:

“Mr. President I believe that the House has finally come along in representing Georgia’s gun owners and protecting themselves.”

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Politics
6:00 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Foster Care Privatization Fails In Final Hours Of Session

Republican Sen. Renee Unterman looks over language in a revised version of a bill to privatize most of Georgia's Child Welfare Services Thursday at the state Capitol.
Credit Michell Eloy

Plans to privatize most of the state’s child welfare system failed Thursday night when House leaders opted not to take up a bill approved by the Senate earlier in the day.

Privatization looked poised for passage earlier Thursday when the Senate passed a plan that looked similar to the House’s version.

It laid out a three-year pilot program to privatize services like adoption and foster care rather than a statewide rollout, as had previously been pushed for by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and other Senate lawmakers.

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Georgia General Assembly
2:33 am
Fri March 21, 2014

State Lawmakers Try Again: Testing Welfare Recipients for Drug Use

Credit DrugFree.org

 The Georgia General Assembly has revised a law on drug-testing welfare recipients.

 A law passed two years ago allowed drug testing for anyone in Georgia who applied for welfare or food stamps. State officials never implemented the law, and a federal court struck down a similar measure in Florida, ruling it unconstitutional.

The new, Republican-backed bill allows state officials to test recipients if they have what is called in the measure “a reasonable suspicion” the person is using drugs.

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Georgia General Assembly
2:26 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Lawmakers Move to Eliminate Summer Unemployment for Contracted School Workers

School bus drivers are just some of the estimated 60,000 contracted workers who serve school systems in Georgia.

Workers who are privately contracted to schools will no longer be able to collect unemployment during the summer if Gov. Nathan Deal signs a bill passed by the General Assembly Thursday.

Bus drivers, lunchroom staff, and other workers who do not work directly for school systems often find themselves in the unemployment line during the summer -- sometimes with a wink and a nod from their private employers -- who hire them back when school starts again.

However, if the governor signs the new bill, they will not be able to collect unemployment.

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Politics
1:27 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Bills On Medical Marijuana and Autism Fail On Final Day Of Session

Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon.
Credit Ga. House of Reps.

A popular bill that would have allowed the limited use of medical marijuana to treat seizure disorders failed to gain passage on the final day of this year's legislative session.

As the clock neared midnight, Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, spoke one last time from the House floor.

"There is an opportunity for the Senate to act on a bill that would provide relief and hope for hundreds of families in our state, if they would just take up the vote," said Peake.

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Politics
1:07 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Lawmakers Alter MARTA Board, Allow Clayton To Hold MARTA Referendum

Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven (left).
Credit Ga. House of Reps.

On the 40th and final day of legislative session, state lawmakers signed off on a pair of bills related to MARTA.

Currently, the Fulton and DeKalb County Commissions appoint seven of the 11 voting members to MARTA’s board. Under HB 264, some of that appointment power beginning in 2017 would be shifted to a group of mayors in DeKalb and north Fulton.

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Sine Die
7:28 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Georgia Legislature 2014 Final Day: Updates, Continued

The Georgia State Capitol in the afternoon sun.
Credit Michell Eloy/WABE

  [Final Update: 12:10 a.m., Friday, March 21, 2014]

This is the continuation of our ongoing updates of the closing day of the 2014 Georgia Legislature.

The updates from earlier today can now be found separately. Below, you will find the rest of our updates through adjournment, which we expect to be at midnight tonight.

This continuation begins immediately after the earlier updates, so there is no gap in our coverage.

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Politics
5:24 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

State House, Senate Near Agreement on Reform of Child Welfare System

In 2012, a report found that 152 children who had had some contact with the state Department of Children and Family Services died. These deaths are part of what has led to a search for alternatives to Georgia's current child welfare system.
Credit Georgia Department of Human Services

Georgia's child welfare system, which includes foster care, has been struggling for years.  This past year, after several deaths of children in the system--and amid a backlog of investigations of abuse--House and Senate lawmakers rolled out competing reform proposals.  Some called for an immediate privatization of much of the child welfare system; others advocated a slower approach, involving pilot privatization programs in parts of the state.

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Georgia Legislature 2014
5:07 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Scenes From The Legislature

House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta, right) and Rep. Carolyn Hugley (D-Columbus) look over legislation. Behind them is Rep. Calvin Smyre (D-Columbus). In front is Phil Tucker, House Postmaster and Sergeant at Arms.
Denis O'Hayer/WABE

Here is a slide show of photos taken by Denis O'Hayer at the state capitol on March 20, the final day of the 2014 Georgia General Assembly. This is what your day would look like if you were a member.

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