Bill blocks Georgia cities from outlawing puppy sales at stores

The Georgia Senate is considering legislation that would prohibit local governments from regulating the sale of pets. Animal-rights lobbyists say the measure would strip local control from cities that want to crack down on pet sales and encourage adoption instead. Canton became the first city to enact a local ban last year shortly after a puppy mill was discovered in Cherokee County. Senate Agriculture...
The Georgia Senate is considering legislation that would prohibit local governments from regulating the sale of pets. Animal-rights lobbyists say the measure would strip local control from cities that...

Research center proposed to boost rural Georgia businesses

A government organization could be created to help rebuild the economies of rural Georgia communities, according to legislation introduced this week. The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation would identify business opportunities, create community plans, provide assistance to various industries and help coordination with nonprofit organizations. State Rep. Jason Shaw, the sponsor of ...
A government organization could be created to help rebuild the economies of rural Georgia communities, according to legislation introduced this week. The Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation...


Why Georgia governor’s last criminal justice push may be his toughest

Why Georgia governor’s last criminal justice push may be his toughest

Gov. Nathan Deal may have saved one of the hardest parts of his plan to remake the criminal justice system for last. With little opposition, the Republican spearheaded legislation over his two terms that kept more nonviolent offenders out of prison and set up a system of accountability courts. But his proposal this week to give judges new flexibility to forgo cash bail for poor defendants has sparked...
Alternative testing bill passes Georgia Senate

Alternative testing bill passes Georgia Senate

Legislation that would let school districts experiment with home-gown alternatives to Georgia’s state standardized tests advanced through the state Senate Thursday. The Georgia Milestones come at the end of a school year,  or in some cases at the end of a semester. That means teachers get the results after their students have moved on, so they complain that the tests don’t help them...
Georgia Legislature Today: Senators consider new city of Eagles Landing

Georgia Legislature Today: Senators consider new city of Eagles Landing

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Thursday, Day 22 of the 2018 legislative session: Eagles Landing: Bills that would create a new city of Eagles Landing by carving out a portion of Stockbridge are scheduled to be debated on the Senate floor on Tuesday. Stockbridge leaders say the move is unprecedented, with the new city taking half of it’s tax base if it is created. Senate Bill...
Deal's cash bail proposal gets him a comparison to Lucifer 

Deal's cash bail proposal gets him a comparison to Lucifer 

Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice system overhaul might be his defining policy initiative. But the response from one prominent sheriff about his final push offers a hint at the opposition he still faces.  Hours before Deal gave a hearty endorsement to his measure, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills sent a note to leaders of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association trying to rally...
Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Watchdog: if your car’s been booted in Georgia, read this

Several months ago, I wrote about a legal effort to end booting as a parking enforcement practice in Georgia. Since then I’ve gotten a regular stream of complaints from metro area drivers who are enraged at booting companies and the businesses that hire them. I told many of them I would keep an eye out to see if state lawmakers addressed the issue. They have, but not as I expected. ...
Ga. Legislature: Child sex abuse bill fails to make it out of subcommittee, again

Ga. Legislature: Child sex abuse bill fails to make it out of subcommittee, again

Adults who believe they were molested as children could sue later in life under legislation debated by Georgia lawmakers again Wednesday. The bill that would extend the statute of limitations for adults to file lawsuits against their abusers and the institutions that failed to protect them as children. The sponsor of House Bill 605, Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, said the law needs to be amended...
Deal plan to reduce Georgia tax hike from fed plan gets cold reception

Deal plan to reduce Georgia tax hike from fed plan gets cold reception

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to reduce the revenue windfall the state will receive from federal tax changes approved by Congress in December is getting a frosty reception in the General Assembly. The measure, House Bill 918, aims to slice into the estimated $4.7 billion income tax windfall over the next five years that Georgia would receive if lawmakers don’t make changes to the state...
Around Georgia: GSU could be a funding winner

Around Georgia: GSU could be a funding winner

Report: Georgia State University could benefit from law rewrite A rewrite of the Higher Education Act could benefit Georgia State University, insidehighered.com reported Wednesday. Under the PROSPER Act — as House Republicans have deemed their bill — elite private colleges in the Northeast that were criticized as having an advantage under the work-study formula could be losing the most...
Senators approve bill studying local police officer pay

Senators approve bill studying local police officer pay

The Georgia Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would require local police departments to conduct salary surveys, which could help them determine how best to increase officer salaries. Lawmakers are trying to help local law enforcement departments retain their officers after passing a drastic pay hike for state police two years ago. One of those ways could be through a yet-to-be-created ...
Georgia House backs ‘truth-in-fee’ constitutional amendment

Georgia House backs ‘truth-in-fee’ constitutional amendment

It’s now up to the Georgia Senate to decide whether voters in November will be able to limit lawmakers’ raids on fee money meant for things such as cleaning up tire dumps and landfills. The Georgia House voted 166-1 Wednesday for a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the General Assembly to mandate that fees go toward their intended purposes. That sets up a Senate vote during...
Man arrested at Georgia Capitol after allegedly pulling gun on crossing guard

Man arrested at Georgia Capitol after allegedly pulling gun on crossing guard

While Georgia lawmakers were making laws inside the state Capitol last week, a man was allegedly breaking them outside. The suspect allegedly displayed a handgun to a security officer at a pedestrian crosswalk on Thursday morning, drove off the wrong way on a one-way street and was later arrested after a confrontation with an FBI special agent, according to a police report obtained by The Atlanta...
Accusations fly in tax tiff between Clayton schools and Delta

Accusations fly in tax tiff between Clayton schools and Delta

The tax fight between a Georgia school system and Delta Air Lines took a nasty turn Wednesday, with the local school superintendent alleging that the multi-billion dollar company is accusing his administration of “sharing falsehoods.” Clayton County schools Superintendent Morcease Beasley issued a statement Wednesday morning about a letter to Delta employees. “The communication...
Democratic newcomer builds hefty warchest in hunt for Georgia’s No. 2 job

Democratic newcomer builds hefty warchest in hunt for Georgia’s No. 2 job

First-time candidate Sarah Riggs Amico sent a message to other Democrats eyeing a race for lieutenant governor with one of the biggest fundraising hauls of any down-ticket candidate.  The trucking executive, who formally entered the race in December, raised the brunt of her $386,000 in contributions over the span of one month. She added a loan of $186,000 and reported about $300,000 in cash...
Georgia Legislature Today: Will Talmadge Bridge get a new name?

Georgia Legislature Today: Will Talmadge Bridge get a new name?

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Wednesday, Day 21 of the 2018 legislative session: Talmadge Bridge: Girl Scouts are lobbying lawmakers to change the name of Savannah’s Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge — which honors the former governor, who was also a segregationist — to instead honor their founder Juliette Gordon Low. A House panel will meet Wednesday afternoon...
Republican John LaHood elected to south Georgia House seat

Republican John LaHood elected to south Georgia House seat

John LaHood won a special election Tuesday for a south Georgia seat in the state House of Representatives. LaHood, a Republican and the CEO of Fellowship Senior Living, defeated three opponents to represent House District 175 on the Georgia-Florida border. LaHood received about 71 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. He will replace former Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta...
Georgia colleges say campus speech bill unnecessary

Georgia colleges say campus speech bill unnecessary

Georgia college officials and the presidents of its two largest universities told state lawmakers Tuesday that legislation aimed at protecting the rights of people invited to speak on campuses is unnecessary and could increase security costs and raise liability. The bill’s supporters, though, argued the legislation, Senate Bill 339, is needed because current speech rules do not offer enough...
Medical pot supporters regroup after Georgia governor blocks expansion

Medical pot supporters regroup after Georgia governor blocks expansion

Gov. Nathan Deal slammed the door shut on a proposal that would make it vastly easier for Georgians to obtain medical marijuana. But the dejected supporters of the expansion are already plotting ways next year to expand the program after he leaves office. The governor said in an interview that legislation to legalize in-state cultivation of medical marijuana needed more safeguards to prevent abuse...
Around Georgia: State considered tough on illegal immigration

Around Georgia: State considered tough on illegal immigration

NPR’s Morning Edition had a story Tuesday that suggested metro Atlanta is one of the toughest places in America to be an immigrant without legal status. It suggests that arrests by federal immigration agents in the region are way up, and that local law enforcement is only too eager to help. Phil Kent, a member of the Georgia Immigration Enforcement Review Board, tells NPR he hopes that&rsquo...
Savannah residents: Creek’s offensive slave-era name must go

Savannah residents: Creek’s offensive slave-era name must go

Sometimes it takes an outsider to draw attention to something that’s been obvious the whole time. That’s what locals say about their newfound desire to change the name of Runaway Negro Creek. Savannah natives say they’ve grown up knowing about the existence of the creek, which runs along the edge of Skidaway Island State Park and sometimes serves as a shortcut boaters use to get...
Bill that would grant earlier Sunday drinking clears Georgia Senate

Bill that would grant earlier Sunday drinking clears Georgia Senate

After several years of failed attempts, a bill to expand the sale of alcohol on Sunday mornings cleared the Senate on Tuesday. State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, said the legislation was a compromise made to appease opponents of the bill, including several who object to any expanded access to alcohol. Senators voted 38-18 to send the bill to the House for its consideration. Versions of the legislation...
Bill could mean transit expansions in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb

Bill could mean transit expansions in Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb

State legislation to be unveiled today could pave the way for transit expansions in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, part of Cobb County and in much of the rest of the Atlanta region in the future. The bill, to be unveiled at a press conference by House Speaker David Ralston, would allow 13 metro Atlanta counties to impose 30-year sales taxes for mass transit projects, if their voters approve them. At...

Abrams pledges to eliminate cash bail system, decriminalize some marijuana offenses 

Stacey Abrams pledged to eliminate the use of cash bail for poor defendants accused of low-level offenses, reduce criminal penalties for Georgians charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana and pour more funding into accountability courts if elected governor. The ex-Democratic lawmaker said Tuesday her criminal justice plan would also expand the “ban the box” program designed...
Georgia back-to-school tax holidays may be on a comeback, multiply

Georgia back-to-school tax holidays may be on a comeback, multiply

South Georgia lawmakers are leading the charge to bring back the state’s back-to-school sales-tax holiday in August and September. House Bill 796 by Rep. John Corbett, R-Lake Park, would renew a Georgia tradition that ended last year, in part because lawmakers found it so costly. Under Corbett’s proposal, the sales-tax holidays on clothes, computers and software, school supplies and...
Georgia Legislature Today: ‘Brunch bill’ hits Senate floor

Georgia Legislature Today: ‘Brunch bill’ hits Senate floor

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Tuesday, Day 20 of the 2018 legislative session: “Mimosa mandate”: A compromise bill allowing restaurants to sell alcohol earlier on Sundays that Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, said he will not block has made it to the floor for debate. Senate Bill 17, which would permit restaurants and wineries that serve food...
Georgia governor slams door on major medical marijuana expansion in 2018 

Georgia governor slams door on major medical marijuana expansion in 2018 

Gov. Nathan Deal said he would oppose an effort to legalize the in-state cultivation of medical marijuana this year, forcing supporters of a major expansion to wait until his successor takes office next year to press their case.  The governor said in an interview he was concerned there weren’t enough safeguards to allow in-state cultivation this year, and he urged the effort’s supporters...
Opinion: Stop funding Georgia charter schools ‘on the cheap’

Opinion: Stop funding Georgia charter schools ‘on the cheap’

Corey DeAngelis is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom. In a guest column, DeAngelis endorses a bill in the Georgia Legislature that would increase state spending on charter schools. Sponsored by Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, House Bill 787 would increase charter school investment by about $10 million. (Along with raising the per-pupil spending...
School recess legislation back in Georgia

School recess legislation back in Georgia

A proposal to mandate daily recess for young students in public schools is back in the Georgia General Assembly. House Bill 273 by Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, passed the Georgia House of Representatives last year but stalled in the Senate. It’s back again during this legislative session and, on Monday, the Senate Education and Youth Committee voted it out of committee, which means...
Ga. House Speaker Ralston impressed by Trump infrastructure plan 

Ga. House Speaker Ralston impressed by Trump infrastructure plan 

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston says President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan could be “transformative,” potentially bringing in federal money for rural Georgia and metro Atlanta public transportation. Ralston was among about 20 state leaders from across the country invited to Washington on Monday as Trump announced his vision for $1.5 trillion in infrastructure...
Around Georgia: Lawmaker rises to defend recovery funding for beaches

Around Georgia: Lawmaker rises to defend recovery funding for beaches

A weekend editorial outlines a move by lawmakers and the governor to include $10 million in the state’s midyear budget so Jekyll, St. Simons and Tybee islands can fortify their beaches. The budget has been approved by the House and is under review by the Senate. But the money caused a minor uproar last week when a freshman lawmaker from North Georgia proposed an amendment that would have taken...
Deal pushing bill to cut Georgia windfall from federal tax changes

Deal pushing bill to cut Georgia windfall from federal tax changes

The Deal administration is filing legislation to eat into the massive windfall the state is expecting from the federal tax plan that Congress approved in December. It would also give some Georgians the chance to lower their state tax bill, which might jump as a result of the federal tax changes. “It will mean the state is not collecting as much money from them as it would have been had we not...
Georgia Legislature Today: Will Georgia get a hate crimes law?

Georgia Legislature Today: Will Georgia get a hate crimes law?

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Monday, Day 19 of the 2018 legislative session: Hate crimes: A panel will debate House Bill 663, which would make it illegal to commit a “violent crime” against someone based on qualities such as their race, gender or sexual orientation. State Rep. Karen Bennett, D-Stone Mountain, said she filed the bill because similar...
Torpy at Large: A push to rebrand MARTA as ‘The ATL’ has me SMH

Torpy at Large: A push to rebrand MARTA as ‘The ATL’ has me SMH

Ever since it was envisioned half a century ago, MARTA has always felt hemmed in. Sure, the transit agency has tried to venture out to places such as Cobb and Gwinnett counties. But voters there have summarily smacked the agency back to its Atlanta home, including an ugly racially tinged referendum in 1990. Time has — somewhat — worn down anti-MARTA antipathy. Three years ago, a poll found...
Clayton Co. school superintendent picks a fight with Delta over fuel tax

Clayton Co. school superintendent picks a fight with Delta over fuel tax

You don’t often see a school superintendent pick a fight with one of the region’s big economic powerhouses. And yet that’s what’s happening in Clayton County. On Friday, Morcease Beasley, head of the Clayton school system, put out a YouTube video to rally opposition to House Bill 821, a tax package endorsed by Gov. Nathan Deal that would, among other things, exempt Delta Air...
Governor’s office silent on how board pick was vetted

Governor’s office silent on how board pick was vetted

The accusations in the media and in lawsuits were shocking: Needlessly drilling into baby teeth. Filling children’s mouths with stainless-steel crowns they didn’t need. Strapping patients down on boards, so their writhing wouldn’t interfere with the pace of work — all so the company could soak up as many Medicaid dollars as possible. “My baby was in pain. And she was...
Georgia legislation proposes sex abuse education starting in kindergarten

Georgia legislation proposes sex abuse education starting in kindergarten

Georgia’s children need to know what to do if they are being sexually abused. That’s the thinking behind House Bill 762, which mandates annual sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education for public school students in kindergarten through their freshman year of high school. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, said at subcommittee hearing of...
State revenue jumps as Georgians prepay taxes ahead of federal changes

State revenue jumps as Georgians prepay taxes ahead of federal changes

State income tax collections shot up $359 million in January as the Department of Revenue took in payments ahead of the new federal tax law. Overall state revenue jumped 16.7 percent over January 2017. While sales tax collections were strong — a good sign for the economy — the biggest boost, 27 percent, came from individual income taxes. The biggest chunk of that was from people making...
Capitol Recap: Georgia governor concerned but on fence about drilling

Capitol Recap: Georgia governor concerned but on fence about drilling

Gov. Nathan Deal’s oil pressure is running high. The governor has yet to say whether he will back or oppose the Trump administration’s plan to open nearly all the nation's coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling. That makes Deal the lone governor of a coastal state who is still on the fence. He has said the proposal concerns him. Others feel more strongly. The Atlanta City...
Casino companies show some Georgia candidates the money 

Casino companies show some Georgia candidates the money 

Casino giants hoping to bring a Las Vegas-style resort to Atlanta are chipping in to Georgia political campaigns.  MGM Resorts International, which envisions a $1 billion-plus complex in Atlanta, was among the major donors to elected officials and candidates in campaign disclosures filed this week. The casino firm and its executives contributed at least $22,000 to former state Rep. Stacey...
‘Religious liberty’ adoption bill moves through Ga. Senate committee

‘Religious liberty’ adoption bill moves through Ga. Senate committee

A bill that would enshrine the ability of faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to do business with same-sex couples moved closer Thursday to a vote in the Georgia Senate. A Senate subcommittee heard an hour and a half of testimony from adoption agencies, religious groups and gay-rights advocates, making the legislation eligible for consideration by the full Senate Judiciary Committee. Most senators...
Georgia House panel backs tax breaks for airlines, aquarium

Georgia House panel backs tax breaks for airlines, aquarium

Legislation to exempt jet fuel and construction materials used in a Georgia Aquarium expansion from taxes and a bill to raise tag fees for many used-car buyers are advancing through the state House. A key panel, the state House Ways and Means Committee, approved more than a dozen tax bills Thursday, including Gov. Nathan Deal’s measure that puts off dealing with a mammoth state income tax windfall...
Netflix tax proposed to help fund rural Georgia internet

Netflix tax proposed to help fund rural Georgia internet

A bill introduced Thursday proposes imposing taxes on streaming services like Netflix to help raise money for state-subsidized internet expansion in rural Georgia. The legislation, House Bill 887, requires customers to pay sales taxes on video services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as digital music and e-books. In addition, a new communications tax would cover all phone...
Georgia lawmakers try to bring back electric vehicle tax break

Georgia lawmakers try to bring back electric vehicle tax break

Eric Richner, a member of the EV Club of the South from Duluth, is an avid fan of electric vehicles. He owns two of them. But when Richner considered buying another electric car, he had to think twice. Without a state tax credit, he wondered whether he could pay for it. “I bought two cars because of the tax credit,” he said. “If there wasn’t a tax credit, this wouldn&rsquo...
Fees to freeze credit reports could be banned in Georgia after Equifax breach

Fees to freeze credit reports could be banned in Georgia after Equifax breach

Customers whose personal information was exposed by Equifax’s giant data breach shouldn’t have to pay to keep their credit safe, says state Rep. Scot Turner. He introduced House Bill 866 on Wednesday to make it free for Georgians to freeze and unfreeze their credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Georgia law...
Georgia Legislature Today: Two cities in the House

Georgia Legislature Today: Two cities in the House

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Thursday, Day 18 of the 2018 legislative session: City slickers: Proposals to create the new cities of Skidaway Island on the Georgia coast and Sharon Springs in Forsyth County could hit the House floor. House Bill 618 allows a referendum on forming Skidaway Island, a Chatham County community which had 8,341 residents in the 2010 Census. ...
Torpy at Large: Even arugula can’t offset the ills of gerrymandering

Torpy at Large: Even arugula can’t offset the ills of gerrymandering

I took one of those Facebook personality tests the other day to rank my political leanings: I’m a left-leaning centrist, 55 percent lib/45 percent right. The test, I figure, ranked me a bit left because I said I liked arugula. I bring this up because a couple of hours after taking this quiz, I attended a Georgia legislative committee meeting concerning an effort to remove partisanship from the...
Governor’s jet fuel tax break bill moves quickly in Georgia House

Governor’s jet fuel tax break bill moves quickly in Georgia House

Gov. Nathan Deal’s legislation to make changes in the state tax code, including exempting jet fuel from sales taxes, is moving quickly through the House. Only a few days after House Bill 821 was filed, it passed its first vote before a House panel Wednesday. Deal is hoping for quick approval, despite legislative consternation over the fact that it does nothing to address a potential $3...
Georgia Senate’s Hindu ‘chaplain of the day’ is likely a chamber first

Georgia Senate’s Hindu ‘chaplain of the day’ is likely a chamber first

With a message of unity and peace, Vipul Vora may have become the first chaplain of the day to share the Hindu faith with Georgia senators Wednesday. Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, invited Vora and Rick Desai, both volunteers with BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu temple in Lilburn, to lead Wednesday’s prayer in the chamber. Each day of the legislative session, a member...
The race for Georgia governor is a nearly $20 million contest

The race for Georgia governor is a nearly $20 million contest

Candidates have amassed more than $19 million as they intensified their battle to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal — and they’ve begun to dig deep into their campaign coffers to win over voters ahead of the May primaries. Reports posted on Wednesday’s deadline show the campaigns have spent millions of dollars hiring staff, opening offices across the state and preparing volleys of TV ads...
Senator wants new name for Skidaway Island’s ‘Runaway Negro Creek’

Senator wants new name for Skidaway Island’s ‘Runaway Negro Creek’

In Georgia’s early years, slaves would try to cross a small body of water on Skidaway Island to escape north to freedom. For at least the past 100 years, that tidewater has been known as Runaway Negro Creek. State Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, said that name is offensive and he wants Georgia to urge the federal government to make a change to the sliver of water that runs along the edge of...
Revised ‘brunch bill,’ without sales at Georgia stores, back on track

Revised ‘brunch bill,’ without sales at Georgia stores, back on track

After a false start last week, a bill that would allow Sunday morning alcohol sales at restaurants is back on track. State senators reached a second compromise this week, this time one that Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, said he won’t block from proceeding. The revised bill would bump the time for alcohol sales at privately owned restaurants from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m. on Sundays...
Senate health bills targeting opioid crisis head to Georgia House

Senate health bills targeting opioid crisis head to Georgia House

A pair of bills aimed at gaining control over Georgia’s opioid crisis cleared the state Senate on Wednesday with almost no opposition, though sponsors of the legislation said they expect to see some pushback in the House. One proposal, Senate Bill 357, would create a Health Coordination and Innovation Council composed of health agency heads from across the state, as well as a director...
Bill to expand peer counseling for Georgia’s first responders advances

Bill to expand peer counseling for Georgia’s first responders advances

One by one, first responders told a room of lawmakers about the times they’ve come face to face with emotionally trying situations and had to pull through on their own for fear of appearing weak. “I turned to Jack Daniels and Jim Beam as my counselor,” said Patrick Cullinan of Augusta, who’s worked as a firefighter, emergency medical technician and police officer. “In...
Georgia Legislature Today: Candidates show the money

Georgia Legislature Today: Candidates show the money

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Wednesday, Day 17 of the 2018 legislative session: Money day: Georgia’s candidates for governor and other elected offices must disclose how much money they’ve raised so far by a deadline Wednesday. The 2018 gubernatorial campaign is expected to be the most expensive in history, exceeding a combined $10 million already. Republican Casey...
Pressure mounting on Georgia governor to oppose offshore drilling plan

Pressure mounting on Georgia governor to oppose offshore drilling plan

The pressure is mounting on Gov. Nathan Deal to oppose the Trump administration’s move to open nearly all of the nation’s coastal waters to offshore oil and gas drilling. The Republican is the only governor of a coastal state who has yet to oppose or embrace the plan to give energy companies access to more than a billion acres off America’s shore, though he’s said he&rsquo...
 Georgia 2018: Hill takes in another seven-figure campaign haul

 Georgia 2018: Hill takes in another seven-figure campaign haul

Republican Hunter Hill followed up his seven-figure take last year with another million-dollar haul.  The former state senator will report Wednesday that he raised $1.1 million this period and has amassed about $2.2 million since he jumped in the race in April. He’s got most of that sum – about $1.5 million – on hand.  He’s already used a chunk of his account...
A leaked Stacey Abrams memo sketches a Democratic race to come

A leaked Stacey Abrams memo sketches a Democratic race to come

Sometimes, a political campaign will leak a secret strategy memo that isn’t secret at all, simply to exploit the thrill that comes from reading other people’s mail. And sometimes a red stamp at the top that says “CONFIDENTIAL” means exactly that. My Journal-Constitution colleague Greg Bluestein has come across what is probably an example of the latter, a memo apparently directed...
Georgia legislators take up anti-gerrymandering proposal

Georgia legislators take up anti-gerrymandering proposal

A crowd of Georgia voters asked state legislators Tuesday to amend the state Constitution to remove partisanship from the process of redrawing the state’s political maps. The House Reapportionment Committee listened to concerns that partisan gerrymandering could hinder fair representation but didn’t vote on the proposal, House Resolution 2. Committee Chairman Johnnie Caldwell, R-Thomaston...
Around Georgia: Plan for truck-only highway draws attention

Around Georgia: Plan for truck-only highway draws attention

The grapevine probably had the word out first, but Georgia’s plan for a 40-mile toll-free trucks-only highway is making headlines in the 18-wheel industry. Livetrucking.com reported late Monday on the state’s plans, which officials say should receive federal funding but will go on regardless. Construction is to begin in 2025 for the project, which carries a $1 billion-plus price...
Governor will consider tax cut plans to address Georgia’s windfall

Governor will consider tax cut plans to address Georgia’s windfall

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday that he would consider working on legislation during this year’s General Assembly session to reduce the massive revenue windfall the state could receive from the federal tax plan that Congress passed in December. Earlier the administration had said it wanted to leave the issue to lawmakers to deal with in 2019. Deal told reporters Tuesday that he wants lawmakers...
Micro-hospitals proposed to provide rural Georgia health care

Micro-hospitals proposed to provide rural Georgia health care

Georgia lawmakers are proposing small, scaled-down hospitals to provide health care in rural areas that lack full-fledged hospitals. These micro-hospitals are a centerpiece of House Bill 769, a rural health effort that stems from the work of the House Rural Development Council, which issued recommendations to revitalize shrinking communities. But the legislation doesn’t include...
Georgia Legislature Today: A wide-open post-adoption session

Georgia Legislature Today: A wide-open post-adoption session

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Tuesday, Day 16 of the 2018 legislative session: Fresh start: Now that the rewrite of Georgia’s adoption laws has passed the Legislature, lawmakers can look toward other priorities. Those issues include the state’s budget, taxes, transportation and rural internet. Midyear budget: The full Georgia House might vote on the state’s $306 million...
Georgia Senate bill would remake transit in metro Atlanta

Georgia Senate bill would remake transit in metro Atlanta

A Georgia senator introduced legislation Monday to allow metro Atlanta counties to impose a 1 percent sales tax for transit – if they let MARTA run their transit systems. Senate Bill 386, sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, also would consolidate transit planning and construction for metro Atlanta under a new board under the Georgia Regional Transportation Agency. VIDEO...
Ralston caps triumphant day with Zell Miller award 

Ralston caps triumphant day with Zell Miller award 

It was a day House Speaker David Ralston probably won’t soon forget. On Monday morning, the Senate bent to the House’s will and approved a measure that Ralston championed, ending a yearlong standoff between the chambers that frustrated lawmakers on both sides of the Gold Dome.  On Monday evening, the Blue Ridge Republican was honored with an award in honor of former U.S. Sen. Zell...
Bill to keep guns out of felons’ hands advances in Georgia House

Bill to keep guns out of felons’ hands advances in Georgia House

A bill aiming to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons received initial approval Monday in the state House. State Rep. Jesse Petrea, R-Savannah, said the proposal would expand on the federal law that makes it illegal for someone to buy a gun for someone he or she knows is not legally allowed to have firearms. Petrea said when convicted felons aren’t getting access to the guns by...
Media Roundup: Effort to rename Savannah bridge takes sweet approach

Media Roundup: Effort to rename Savannah bridge takes sweet approach

Hundreds of pint-size lobbyists will be doling out cookies and milk at the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday as they push to strike a segregationist’s name from a major gateway bridge, The New York Times reported Sunday.The Times piece tracks the fight by the Girl Scouts to have the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge in Savannah renamed for Juliette Gordon Low, the Girl Scouts founder. Savannah residents...
Georgia adoption overhaul wins final approval 

Georgia adoption overhaul wins final approval 

A heated political fight over adoptions in Georgia ended Monday with state lawmakers approving a compromise designed to make it easier for children to find families. The Georgia Senate, on a 53-2 vote, passed a broad measure meant to encourage adoptions in the state. Gov. Nathan Deal said he plans to sign the legislation into law after it unanimously cleared the state House last week. The...
The Jolt: Adoption bill fight is now about living expenses for birth mothers

The Jolt: Adoption bill fight is now about living expenses for birth mothers

When last we left the Georgia Legislature, the Senate had just adjourned rather than immediately accept a governor-approved compromise on House Bill 159, the measure to rewrite state adoption laws. As posted this weekend, Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle appeared to have come to agreement over a Senate initiative to give sanction to a church-based, private foster care system that would...
Abrams memo reveals campaign strategy, warns of ‘Evans-Fort’ alliance 

Abrams memo reveals campaign strategy, warns of ‘Evans-Fort’ alliance 

Democrat Stacey Abrams is banking on her campaign for governor’s ground-game but stockpiling cash to combat a volley of likely negative attacks. She’s wary of a potential bid by Vincent Fort for lieutenant governor and “racially reductive” media narratives.  And she’s confident she’s building an unassailable “structural advantage” over former state...
Why it’s more difficult to adopt children in Georgia

Why it’s more difficult to adopt children in Georgia

Before Lisa Wiggins could adopt her newborn son, she had to endure Georgia’s 10-day waiting period during which the birth mother could change her mind and decide to keep her baby. “It was absolutely nerve-racking,” said Wiggins, who lives in Waynesboro. “A lot of birth mothers wrestle with this decision. Those 10 days felt like 10 years.” After the 10 days, the birth...
Georgia Legislature Today: An adoption cliffhanger

Georgia Legislature Today: An adoption cliffhanger

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Monday, Day 15 of the 2018 legislative session: Adoption deal?: A potential compromise over a bill to make adoptions easier in Georgia was left hanging in the state Senate last week. The House passed House Bill 159 on a 168-0 vote, but senators declined to vote until they finish reviewing the latest version of the legislation. It’s...
Clay Tippins makes a Super Bowl-sized splash in Georgia gov race

Clay Tippins makes a Super Bowl-sized splash in Georgia gov race

Republican Clay Tippins will make his TV debut in the race for Georgia governor on Super Bowl Sunday with a 60-second ad during the most-watched television program of the year. The former collegiate swimmer is looking to make a big splash in a crowded GOP race that includes Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and his ad takes direct aim at those better-known rivals.  With...
Behind debate over an adoption bill: A push for church-based, privatized foster care

Behind debate over an adoption bill: A push for church-based, privatized foster care

To help explain why the first rewrite of the state’s adoption laws in a generation has roiled the state Legislature for two years, and continues to do so this weekend, I point you to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. You’ll recall that, last Tuesday, Trump told the story of a young Albuquerque, N.M., police officer who encountered a pregnant drug addict while on...
Georgia PSC commissioners stick to Plant Vogtle decision

Georgia PSC commissioners stick to Plant Vogtle decision

Despite objections from a consumer advocacy group, the state Public Service Commission will let stand its decision to allow Georgia Power to finish two half-built nuclear reactors. The commissioners declined to reconsider their order on embattled Plant Vogtle, dismissing a petition by Georgia Watch, which had challenged some components of the regulators’ decision. In December, the five commissioners ...
Georgia voter letter lawsuit settled by ACLU and Secretary of State

Georgia voter letter lawsuit settled by ACLU and Secretary of State

Voters in Georgia will no longer be declared inactive when they fail to confirm their addresses after moving within the same county, according to a settlement announced Friday. The settlement Friday resolves a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia alleging that the state wasn’t complying with laws requiring election officials to automatically update voters’ addresses...
Georgia 2018: Evans pushes tech school overhaul 

Georgia 2018: Evans pushes tech school overhaul 

Democrat Stacey Evans honed her higher education plan Friday, saying one of her first acts if she’s elected governor would be to provide tuition-free technical college programs to Georgia students.  The former state legislator entered the race last year on a pledge to provide to boost the HOPE grant program, which once provided tuition and fees to all tech school students who maintained...
Georgia 2018: Ex-Democratic lawmaker jumps in PSC race

Georgia 2018: Ex-Democratic lawmaker jumps in PSC race

Former Democratic state Sen. Doug Stoner filed paperwork Friday to enter the race for a Public Service Commission post that will soon be vacant. He’ll likely face a top ally of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal for a spot on the five-member panel. Stoner was long rumored to jump in the race to replace Stan Wise, who said this month in a letter to Deal that he will step down on Feb. 20. The...
Georgia lawmakers voice opposition to ignoring state tax windfall

Georgia lawmakers voice opposition to ignoring state tax windfall

The Deal administration has filed legislation that doesn’t address the revenue windfall the state will see from the federal tax overhaul passed by Congress in December but would eliminate state jet fuel taxes for airlines. While the Deal administration was hoping for quick passage of House Bill 821 — an annual measure wedding changes in federal tax law to the state tax code &mdash...
Why Georgia Democrats are zeroing in on Atlanta’s suburbs

Why Georgia Democrats are zeroing in on Atlanta’s suburbs

Georgia Democrats are trying to ignite a revolt against Republicans in a swath of diverse suburbs across metro Atlanta and other bedroom communities in the state. The party hopes to capitalize on President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings in areas that once were conservative strongholds but are fast becoming prime political battlegrounds because of changing demographics and the increasing...
Capitol Recap: New D.C. exit bad news — or maybe good news — for Georgia

Capitol Recap: New D.C. exit bad news — or maybe good news — for Georgia

There’s probably a Chinese symbol that explains Georgia’s position now that a key chairmanship on Capitol Hill is opening. It would depict dread over potential loss, with sprinkles of opportunity. U.S. House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen’s announcement that he will go home to New Jersey and not seek re-election sets up a contest for the job, and the leading contender...
Senator files bill to give state more control of Atlanta airport

Senator files bill to give state more control of Atlanta airport

A Jackson Republican has filed a much talked about bill that would give the state more control of Atlanta’s airport. Earlier this week, the governor’s office highlighted issues it had with the legislation, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched a lobbying effort to kill the measure. More than 30 senators from both parties have put their support behind the measure, Senate...
Amazon HQ2 bidding war may set a bad precedent, critics say

Amazon HQ2 bidding war may set a bad precedent, critics say

Amazon’s search for a second headquarters uncorked what could become the biggest ever bidding war for jobs among states and cities in North America. Many critics fear it also could set a dangerous precedent. Companies for years have pitted communities against one another to wring tax breaks and other perks, a dance that was typically done in secret. But Amazon’s public auction for its...
How far Georgia will go to snare Amazon remains a mystery

How far Georgia will go to snare Amazon remains a mystery

Chicago opened with $2 billion. Philadelphia countered with $3 billion. Maryland’s governor upped the ante to $5 billion. New Jersey officials pushed their chips to the middle of the table with an audacious $7 billion wager for Amazon to locate its second headquarters in Newark. Georgia, meanwhile, continues to play its hand close to the vest. The value of Georgia’s opening bid &mdash...
Georgia Senate health bills advance to floor, will face scrutiny

Georgia Senate health bills advance to floor, will face scrutiny

Two proposals to reorganize health care in Georgia government passed easily Thursday through the state Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. That is the committee whose members drew up the bills, and they passed by unanimous voice vote. Senate Bill 357, which would create a Health Coordination and Innovation Council, and Senate Bill 352, which would combat elements of the opioid crisis...
What’s being said about Georgia, state leaders

What’s being said about Georgia, state leaders

The Washington Post is reporting that Indiana — a state joining Georgia on a short list of contenders for Amazon’s second headquarters — has declared dead for the year a bill targeting crimes motivated by bias. The story quotes the head of Indiana’s Democratic Party as saying this could hurt the state’s chances with Amazon. The report makes note that Indiana and Georgia...
Bill giving Georgia adoption agencies same-sex exemption returns

Bill giving Georgia adoption agencies same-sex exemption returns

A Brunswick senator has introduced legislation that would allow adoption agencies to decline to place children with same-sex families based on their religious beliefs. The Senate inserted similar language into House Bill 159 last legislative session, a move that killed the measure for the year. Now, state Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, is bringing the issue back with the introduction of Senate Bill...
Adoption compromise clears Georgia House but stalls in Senate

Adoption compromise clears Georgia House but stalls in Senate

A major effort to make it easier to adopt children in Georgia fell short Thursday. The Georgia House of Representatives voted unanimously, 168-0, on a compromise bill that sought to overhaul the state’s adoption laws. But when the legislation then returned to the Senate, it didn’t receive a vote. Some senators object to a part of the bill that would make it legal to reimburse birth mothers&rsquo...
Georgia 2018: Abrams raises nearly $2M more in gov run 

Georgia 2018: Abrams raises nearly $2M more in gov run 

Democrat Stacey Abrams will report raising about $1.7 million over the last seven months, bringing her total fundraising haul for her campaign for governor to roughly $2.2 million. Her campaign did not immediately disclose how much cash on hand she will report in race for the Democratic nomination against former state Rep. Stacey Evans. The contributions came from more than 14,000 donors. ...
Georgia Senate condemns NFL ahead of Atlanta’s Super Bowl date

Georgia Senate condemns NFL ahead of Atlanta’s Super Bowl date

The Georgia Senate unanimously approved a resolution Thursday condemning the National Football League’s “hypocritical actions” a year before Atlanta hosts the Super Bowl. The measure, proposed by Republican state Sen. David Shafer, urged Georgians to stand during the national anthem and denounced the league’s decision to deny a veterans group advertising space in the official...
Georgia legislation would let students attend schools outside their attendance zone

Georgia legislation would let students attend schools outside their attendance zone

New legislation would potentially allow a child to attend any public school in the state, regardless of residence, as long as they know someone who lives in the desired attendance zone. Critics of traditional public education say students in wealthier areas are served better since local tax dollars help to fund education, not to mention donations and community volunteering. Poor kids, meanwhile, must...
Georgia Legislature Today: Beekeepers buzzing toward a special license plate

Georgia Legislature Today: Beekeepers buzzing toward a special license plate

The Georgia General Assembly at a glance for Thursday, Day 14 of the 2018 legislative session: Beekeepers: After being recognized in the chambers the day before — and passing out jars of honey to all of the lawmakers, the Georgia Beekeepers Association is the subject of the only bill scheduled for floor debate Thursday. House members are scheduled to vote on a bill that would create a Georgia...
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