Politics

Politics
12:04 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Bill Aims To Increase Transparency At State Parole Board

Members of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, James Mills, left, and Terry Barnard, prepare to hear a clemency hearing in the case of death row inmate Warren Lee Hill on July 13, 2012, in Atlanta.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles Tuesday denied clemency to Warren Lee Hill. He was put to death later that night.

The five-member board, which is appointed by the governor, doesn’t have to explain its ruling or make available to the public any document related to the decision. It has largely operated in secret since its creation in 1943.

A new House proposal, however, aims to change that. Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is sponsoring the bill.

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Politics
6:00 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Beer Sales Bill On Tap In Georgia Senate

Under current Georgia law, only distributors can buy beer from breweries.
Credit Flickr/Jan Zeschky

A state lawmaker is expected to file legislation today that would allow breweries to be able to sell beer directly to their customers. Under current Georgia law, only distributors can buy beer from breweries.

Right now, the only way to get a beer at a local brewery is to buy a souvenir mug and get free tastings. Sen. Hunter Hill wants to change that.  His bill would allow beer lovers to buy and drink up to six beers while at a brewery. Hill says brewers would also be able to sell the equivalent of a 12-pack per person to take home.

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A Closer Look
7:25 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

DeKalb Police Chief Cedric Anderson Discusses Lessons Learned From Ferguson

DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander in his office at headquarters in Tucker, Georgia.
Credit Denis O'Hayer / WABE

DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander has a Ph.D. in psychology, and he is leader of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).  

President Barack Obama recently tapped Alexander to serve on the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing, part of the administration's efforts to "strengthen community policing and strengthen trust among law enforcement officers and the communities they serve."

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Politics
4:17 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

As Execution Approches, Some In GOP Want Review Of Mental Disability Standard

GOP leaders in the House and Senate say they’re willing to review Georgia's mental disability standard for the death penalty.
Credit Ric Feld / Associated Press

The state parole board Tuesday morning denied clemency for Warren Lee Hill. He's scheduled to be executed later tonight. Hill’s attorney argues his client’s intellectual disability bars Georgia from putting him to death.

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Politics
3:33 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Medical Marijuana Bill Filed But Major Question Remains Unresolved

Rep. Allen Peake, far left, files a bill that would give those in possession of an oil-based form of medical marijuana immunity from prosecution.
Credit WABE

Possession of an oil-based form of medical marijuana would be legal under a bill filed Monday at the Georgia House. The bill, however, doesn’t lay out how Georgia families would actually get it here. Statewide, growing and distributing medical marijuana remains illegal.

Shannon Cloud of Smryna was on hand to show support for the bill. She has an eight-year-old daughter who suffers from severe seizure disorders.

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Politics
7:49 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

US Sen. David Perdue Discusses Keystone Pipeline, Upcoming Legislative Battles

Now-Senator David Perdue, R-Georgia, in a file photo of his victory celebration at the Intercontinental Hotel in Atlanta on Nov. 4, 2014.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

 

Georgia's new U.S. Senator, Republican David Perdue, has been in office less than a month.  

But he has already proposed some bills, and lined up with his party for upcoming battles with President Obama.  

WABE's Denis O'Hayer spoke with Perdue about the President's recent State of the Union message, and whether Republicans will negotiate with him on issues from health care to the Keystone pipeline.

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Politics
3:44 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Gov. Deal Defends Plan To Cut Health Benefits For 11,000 School Workers

Gov. Nathan Deal’s latest budget plan cuts health benefits to more than 11,000 school workers.
Credit Branden Camp / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal’s latest budget plan cuts health benefits to more than 11,000 school workers - mostly bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and other employees who work less than 30 hours per week.

Deal this week defended the proposal, saying it’s a matter of fairness to other state employees who work part-time but don’t qualify for benefits.

“I think more and more people are asking the question, 'why is it that people who are working less than 30 hours a week were being able to participate when some of our own state employees could not,'” said Deal.

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Politics
5:18 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Gov. Deal Reveals Reason For Absence

Gov. Deal, seen here after his State of the State address earlier this month, revealed today that he had traveled to England.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Speculation over Gov. Nathan Deal’s whereabouts was laid to rest Thursday. Deal, who was last seen Saturday, addressed the mystery after a budget meeting at the state Capitol.

Local and national news outlets, along with those on social media, were wondering where he was. His office wouldn’t offer details. At one point, his spokesman assured the press that no Argentinean lovers were involved ─ a reference to Congressman Mark Sanford, who as governor of South Carolina disappeared for days to rendezvous abroad with a mistress.

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Politics
5:11 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Deal Spotlights Criminal Justice Reform In Budget Briefing

Deal’s budget calls for an extra $15 million so prisons can hire 28 full-time teachers and principals.
Credit Katie King / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal wants to give more prisoners a shot at getting a high school diploma or GED. Deal made that case Thursday to state lawmakers who are reviewing his nearly $22 billion spending plan for next year. 

“We are conveying to our fellow Georgians that the mistakes of their past have not sentenced them to a life of despair, that if they work hard and pay their dues then upon release they’ll have a chance to move on from what they’ve done,” said Deal.

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Politics
5:03 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

DeKalb CEO Wants To Move Government Center Out Of Decatur

DeKalb CEO Lee May announces a proposal to move the DeKalb Government Center out of Decatur during his Thursday State of the County address.
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

DeKalb County’s Government Center could move from downtown Decatur to Memorial Drive. DeKalb CEO Lee May announced the relocation proposal today during his state of the county address.

CEO May says the move is needed because it would spur redevelopment along the Memorial Drive corridor. He believes that’s essential for DeKalb’s future.

“This vision is about giving attention to a part of the county that has been neglected for decades.”

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Politics
3:25 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

State Superintendent Opposed To Making His Position Appointed, Rather Than Elected

New state schools superintendent Richard Woods, far right.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Among the issues facing new state schools superintendent Richard Woods is an effort to make his position appointed, rather than elected.

Woods, who officially started the job this month, says Georgians shouldn’t give up the right to vote for a schools chief.

"You're looking at really surrendering your rights or your voice to express your opinions as the people of Georgia. That means you're losing liberty and once you surrender your liberty it’s probably lost forever," said Woods.

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Infrastructure
6:00 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Want Atlanta's Sidewalks Fixed? There's A Vote For That

Atlanta residents in March will vote on an infrastructure referendum that would be used to repair the city's road and bridges.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

In March, Atlanta citizens will decide whether to take on a large chunk of debt to repair its ailing roads and bridges.

The city proposed a $250 million infrastructure bond, called Renew Atlanta, and voters will decide whether to approve the bond in a referendum on March 17.  

The city has already proposed more than 200 projects around town from feedback taken in a series of public meetings last year.      

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Politics
5:44 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

New GDOT Chief Hopes To Be A Resource To Lawmakers During Funding Debate

Russell McMurry most recently served as GDOT’s planning director and has been with the agency for more than 20 years.
Credit WABE

Georgia has a new transportation chief. It comes just days after the department’s current chief unexpectedly announced his retirement.

Board members of the Georgia Department of Transportation voted Monday for Russell McMurry to replace outgoing director, Keith Golden. 

McMurry recently served as GDOT’s planning director and has been with the agency for more than 20 years. He takes over at a critical juncture.

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Politics
7:07 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Lost Speeches By Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Keep Surfacing

In this Aug. 28, 1963, file photo, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, addresses marchers during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.
Credit File / Associated Press

In recent years, some long-missing recordings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches and interviews have come to light.

UCLA recently released a speech Dr. King gave in April 1965.

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Politics
4:47 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Deal's Plan For Failing Schools Likely To Be Met With Opposition

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Allison Guillory / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal unveiled a plan last week to change Georgia’s constitution so the state can take over failing public schools.

Education advocates are eager to see details but some already say they’re uncomfortable with the idea.

Gov. Deal laid out the proposal during his State of the State address.

"It would authorize the state to step in and help rejuvenate failing public schools and rescue students languishing in them," said Deal.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Capitol MLK Statue To Overlook Liberty Plaza

The statue of King will go on the Capitol’s east side — close to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Capitol Avenue.
Credit atlexplorer / flickr.com/atlexplorer

Gov. Nathan Deal gave more details Friday about exactly where a statue to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. will be placed at the Georgia Capitol. The comments come after Deal signed a bill to erect the statue last spring. 

During a ceremony to honor the late civil rights leader, Gov. Nathan Deal said the statue of King will go on the Capitol’s east side — close to the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Capitol Avenue.  

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Politics
4:43 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

In New Budget, Deal Boosts Funding For Education And Child Protection Services

Today Gov. Nathan Deal unveiled a $21.7 billion budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.
Credit Branden Camp / AP Photo

Fueled by a steadily growing economy, Gov. Nathan Deal today unveiled a $21.7 billion budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The plan boosts spending by about $900 million compared to last year and includes hundreds of millions in new money for public schools.

For the second year in a row, Deal wants to add more than $500 million for K-12 education. Half of that simply keeps up with enrollment. The other half, like last year, will go to local school districts to use as they wish.

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Politics
1:51 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Bill Aims To Crack Down Further On Elder Abuse

Rep. Wendell Willard
Credit GA House of Reps.

New legislation in the state House aims to build off recent efforts to crack down on elder abuse. 

In 2013, state lawmakers passed a bill that elevated some types of crimes against the elderly to felonies and added stricter reporting requirements to help police investigate suspicious activity.

House judiciary chair Wendell Willard is one of the sponsors of the new bill and says law enforcement needs additional tools.

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Politics
12:20 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Atlanta City Councilman To Pay $15K For Ethics Violations

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond has agreed to pay more than $15,000 to settle more than a dozen violations of the city's ethics code.
Credit Atlanta City Council

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond has agreed to pay more than $15,000 to settle over a dozen violations of the city’s ethics code.

The six-page settlement details how Councilman Bond took a $3,000 advance for a trip he never took and accepted dozens of free tickets for things like a Chaka Khan concert and the annual Dragon-Con convention. It also outlines his use of public money for personal travel, private tutoring and to print DVDs and pins for his high school reunion.

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Politics
6:43 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Minimum Wage And Education On House Democrats Agenda

Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

Democrats in Georgia’s House are vastly outnumbered, but they’re hoping to make inroads in several key areas. On Thursday, they unveiled their legislative agenda.

House Democrats put their support behind 26 bills they say will increase educational opportunity and improve economic security for all Georgians.  They want to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams says, “As the state which is the 8th largest in the union, we certainly owe it to our families to offer them not only a good wage, but a livable wage.” 

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Politics
4:06 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Acworth Republican Proposes First Bill Aimed At Raising Transportation Funds

State Rep. Ed Setzler wants to gradually lower the state income tax while raising the amount drivers pay at the pump to boost the transportation fund.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

A Republican state lawmaker from Acworth has introduced the year’s first bill aimed at tackling Georgia's underfunded transportation network. Rep. Ed Setzler wants to gradually lower the state income tax while raising the amount drivers pay at the pump.

"I think we recognize that we have a statewide need that requires a statewide solution," said Setzler.   

He says drivers ─ through the excise tax on fuel ─ should bear more of the burden to maintain the state’s roads and bridges.

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Politics
8:50 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Democrats Have Mixed Reactions To Deal's State of The State Address

Georgia’s top Democrats had mixed reactions to Gov. Nathan Deal’s State of the State address.
Credit Branden Camp / AP Photo

Georgia’s top Democrats had mixed reactions to Gov. Nathan Deal’s speech.

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D─Tucker, was disappointed. He says Deal should have been more specific about how to increase transportation funding.

“I would have liked to have seen leadership today on how that formula and how that funding will come.”

Henson also says the governor didn’t mention a way to save Georgia hospitals that could shut down.

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Politics
5:33 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Georgia Lawmaker Would Risk Prison To Get Medical Marijuana To Families

State Rep. Allen Peake speaks on behalf of his bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Georgia for patients with certain illnesses.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

A state lawmaker says if other options fail, he’s willing to risk going to prison to help Georgia families get medical cannabis oil.

This year, state lawmakers will consider a bill to decriminalize cannabis oil for those with seizure disorders and other medical conditions.  But Georgians would still have to get the oil from other states, and that’s illegal under federal law. So to keep families from being arrested, bill sponsor Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, says he’s willing to bring the cannabis oil to Georgia himself.

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Politics
5:05 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

1 in 12 Georgians Under State Supervision, Governor Calls for Oversight

About one in 12 Georgians is in prison, on probation or parole ─ the highest number in the nation by far, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Credit Lisa George/WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal announced creating a new agency to oversee all those on probation or parole Wednesday during his State of the State address.

A new agency will need to deal with more than half a million people who are under state supervision.

The U.S. Department of Justice says about one in 12 Georgians is in prison, on probation or parole  ─ the highest per capita in the nation by far.

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Politics
11:15 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Gov. Deal Stresses Education And Transportation In State Of The State

''Georgians have spoken clearly that the conservative principles, which have guided our decisions, the very ones that have brought us out of the recession, must continue to guide our future growth.''
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his fifth State of the State address Wednesday to a joint session of the General Assembly. 

Deal said there’s much to be optimistic about: More jobs, a strong business climate, and a recovering housing market. But he said challenges remain.

He vowed to add another billion dollars to K-12 education.

"Working together, we have devoted the largest percentage of the state budget to K-12 education of any governor and General Assembly in the last 50 years," said Deal.

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Politics
6:49 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Autism Treatment Insurance Coverage Bill Returns To Ga. Senate

Credit WABE 90.1 FM

A controversial bill that would require private insurers to provide autism treatment coverage for young children is back before state lawmakers.

The autism bill was one of the most hotly debated topics of last year’s session. This year’s proposal is nearly identical and would require insurers to cover children with autism who are six and under. Sen. Charlie Bethel is sponsoring the bill. He’s hopeful things will be different this time around.

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Politics
6:10 am
Wed January 14, 2015

Gov. Deal To Make Case For Transportation Funding Increase

Governor Nathan Deal During the State of the State Address Jan 15, 2014
Credit Michelle Wirth / WABE

On Wednesday morning, Governor Nathan Deal will highlight his priorities during the State of the State address at Georgia’s Capitol. The governor says he will provide direction on how the state can close an at least $1 billion dollar funding gap in transportation.

Governor Deal says the state has to find more money to unclog and improve Georgia’s roads and bridges. He made his position clear on Tuesday:

“I recognize its going to require additional funding to do the things we need."

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Politics
7:14 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

The President and the New GOP Congress: A Talk with Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), speaking to a breakfast meeting of Cobb County Republicans at the county GOP office in Marietta; Saturday, Jan. 10, 2014
Credit Denis O'Hayer / WABE

 

This past November, American voters gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress.  After President Obama said he had his veto ready for GOP bills he doesn't like, there were dire predictions that the Washington gridlock of the past few years will get even worse.  

But Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson insists the divided government has a chance to work, even as he promises to take on the President and campaign for his own re-election in 2016.

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Politics
3:54 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Speaker David Ralston: Law Enforcement Won't Be 'Enemy No. One'

Georgia General Assembly House Speaker Rep. David Ralston says he would not allow law enforcement officers to become ''Enemy Number One'' in discussions about body cameras and other surveillance tools.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

Yesterday, Rep. David Ralston talked with Denis O'Hayer about upcoming transportation proposals facing the Georgia General Assembly. 

Ralston also defended law enforcement officers, stating that he would not allow them to become "Enemy Number One" in discussions about body cameras and other surveillance tools. 

The speaker shared his views on controversial bills on religion and the fight over which schools should receive state money.

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A Closer Look
2:32 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Legislative Outlook, Minority Leader Stacey Abrams Talks Transportation and Gay Marriage

Georgia General Assembly Minority Leader Stacey Abrams discussed some voter issues such as transportation and Georgia's gay marriage ban that will be topics in the 2015-2016 legislative session.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

WABE's Rose Scott interviewed House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams on a number of hot topics facing the Georgia General Assembly in the 2015-2016 legislative session that began this week. 

In this two part interview, the conversation begins with Abrams talking about education.

In part two of the interview, the conversation begins with Abrams talking about Republican Representative Sam Teasley's religious freedom bill.

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