Johnny Kauffman | WABE 90.1 FM

Johnny Kauffman

Reporter

Johnny joined WABE in March, 2015. Before joining the station, he was a producer at Georgia Public Broadcasting, and NPR in Washington D.C.

At NPR, Johnny worked as a producer for "Morning Edition," "Weekend Edition," and "Tell Me More."

Johnny got his start in radio as host and station manager at WECI in Richmond, Indiana, where he went to Earlham College and graduated with a degree in English.

Johnny is a native of Goshen, Indiana, a small town in the northern part of the state.

House members work during the House's session on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

Ken Adams says he’s read a lot of confusing legal documents in his career, but he’s never seen anything quite like lines 37 and 38 of Georgia’s HB 280, a bill that would allow guns on campus at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

“It’s actually a prize specimen,” Adams joked, “a triumph of unfortunate statute drafting.”

Adams is a consultant who helps lawyers improve the clarity of their writing.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

DeKalb’s top elections official said there’s “no doubt” the county’s board of elections will call for an additional early voting location ahead of the closely watched special election in the 6th Congressional District set for June 20. 

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Johnny Kauffman / WABE

The special Congressional election Tuesday in Georgia's 6th District, one of the first contests since Donald Trump took office, has been billed by some as a referendum on the new president. But many Republican voters in the district don’t see it that way.

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Pixabay Images

National money, attention, and political staffers have been flowing into Georgia’s 6th Congressional District for weeks. Recently released financial documents show money from outside the state is dominating the special election to replace Republican former Rep. Tom Price, the newly appointed secretary of Health and Human Services.

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Johnny Kauffman / WABE

The Republican’s failure to repeal The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is shaking up the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. For a generation, Republicans have controlled the district, including Alpharetta, Roswell and East Cobb, but Democrats think they have a chance to take it back. It was vacated by Tom Price, President Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Health and Human Services.

At a debate in a Marietta Country Club, some of the 11 Republican candidates running were divided on what Congress and Trump should do next about health care.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

The words “slavery” and “Civil War” don’t appear in a resolution filed in the Georgia legislature that’s meant to honor the state’s role in the “four-year struggle for state’s rights, individual freedom, and local government control.” It would recognize April as Confederate History Month, and April 26, 2017 as Confederate Memorial Day at the state capitol.

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Johnny Kauffman / WABE

To make it to work by nine, Chartisia Griffin had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. On public transit, her commute was two-and-a-half hours.

“I'm big pregnant. I'm walking from my house all the way up to the closest bus stop. In the dark, by myself,” she remembered.

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After two trains and another bus, Griffin finally clocked in for what was usually a six-hour shift.

“I'm tired by now because I'm pregnant, I done rode all this far,” she said.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Thousands of metro Atlanta voters would find themselves in different state House districts under a Republican plan that Democrats allege reduces the influence of minority voters.

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Similar moves in other states have been challenged in federal courts, according to experts in voting law. If the Georgia plan is approved by the Republican dominated legislature, and Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, it could also be open to legal challenges.  

JEFF CHIU / Associated Press

Georgia would collect a 4 percent sales tax from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft under a bill narrowly passed by the state House late Friday. 

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“It’s clear that the ride share company, just like the headquarters of a taxi company ought to be paying the money,” said the Rep. Jay Powell, the bill’s sponsor.

Uber opposes the bill, and the House initially rejected it, but a few hours later the chamber changed its vote.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

Tens of millions of dollars collected by the state through small fees on things like new tires, prepaid cell phones and police fines aren’t spent how Georgia lawmakers intended, creating a system critics call a scam on taxpayers.

The piles of dumped tires along roadsides and behind abandoned lots throughout Georgia may be the most visible symbol of how environmentalists, county officials and conservatives say the state’s accounting process deceives taxpayers.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Democrats from around the country are in Atlanta to set the focus and direction of the party as they vote on the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, but leading Georgia Democrats are not united in who they support.

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The race for the DNC chair is attracting a lot of attention, as the party looks to rebound after the November election.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

The head of Georgia’s university system on Monday spoke publicly for the first time against a bill that would allow guns on college campuses around the state.

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“With respect to ‘campus carry,’ we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses,” said Steve Wrigley, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents, before a committee of mostly Republican lawmakers friendly to expanding gun rights.

The Supreme Court is seen in the morning in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.
Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

Georgia has secured a victory in a decades-long battle with Florida over water.

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Florida says Georgia uses too much water, and not enough makes it down to the Gulf of Mexico, so the state sued. Florida blames Georgia's water use for damages to its oyster industry and the state’s surrounding economy.

The case went all the way to a “special master” appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tom Krause and Morgan Penland stand by the cabinet where they file messages that come into Georgia senate Republican Majority Leader Bill Cowsert's office.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

President Donald Trump’s election energized many Georgians to get politically involved and contact elected officials.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

The election of Donald Trump changed something in Katie Dahlstrand, a veteran and history student at the University of Georgia.  

“I decided that being a passive progressive is no longer an option,” she said.

Dahlstrand is now the campaign coordinator for the progressive group Athens For Everyone, which used social media to rally people to a recent meeting with Republican congressional staffers for Sen. Johnny Isakson, Sen. David Perdue and Rep. Jody Hice in the rural town of Greensboro, Georgia.

NICK NESMITH / WABE

Proposals to change gun laws usually spark contentious debates at the state legislature, but some Republicans and Democrats have found a bill they agree on.

“It has something in it for everybody, which is why it’s been a bipartisan, successful bill,” said Democratic state Senator Elena Parent from northern DeKalb County, the bill’s lead sponsor.

Mark Wilson / Associated Press

President Donald Trump's temporary ban on immigration from the Middle East is drawing comparisons to a move President Jimmy Carter made in the spring of 1980, which put strict restrictions on Iranian immigration during the infamous hostage crisis.  

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

A long-standing dispute at the state capitol may be near its end. Lobbyists for dentists and hygienists say they’ve reached a deal that would give hundreds of thousands of Georgians with low incomes better access to teeth cleanings, including many children.

A 2016 Georgia Tech study found 865,000 children on public insurance would have to travel further than the state standard for cleanings: 30 minutes or 30 miles in the city, 45 minutes or 45 miles in rural areas.

Heather Ainsworth / Associated Press

The push for legalizing casinos in Georgia has returned to the Statehouse for the second straight year, and skeptics have million-dollar questions about the cost gleaming resorts would have on local governments and businesses.

“The idea that this is going to be a big tourist boost, we can't find any data that really speaks to that unless you're in Las Vegas,” A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, said.

Former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue remembers what it was like dealing with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina in Georgia with WABE's Denis O'Hayer on Tuesday, August 25, 2015.
Brenna Beech / WABE

Last year, Georgia's former governor, Sonny Perdue, called up a farmer named Gary Paulk for some advice about planting blackberry bushes. Paulk thought it was a prank.

"I picked up the phone and he said, 'Gary, how you doing? This is Sonny Perdue,' " Paulk recalls. "And I said, 'Yeah right, and I'm Mickey Mouse.' " Paulk says he apologized when he realized it actually was Perdue on the line.

Perdue is now Donald Trump's pick for secretary of agriculture, and Paulk expects that he'll keep calling farmers for advice, and maybe just conversation.

April Williams / WABE

Politics are behind where Georgia builds new roads, according to a majority of local officials surveyed in a state audit critical of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s planning division for failing to effectively review major infrastructure projects before they’re selected for construction.  

GDOT “lacks initial selection criteria” the audit said, and “projects are scored after” GDOT has already decided to build them. The audit says GDOT’s analysis criteria “are not well aligned” with the agency’s goals.

David Goldman / Associated Press

The fight over whether guns should be allowed on the campuses of Georgia’s public colleges and universities is coming back to the state legislature, with questions about Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2016 veto of a gun measure, known as the “campus carry” bill, and what he might do this year hovering around the debate.

David Goldman / Associated Press

On Wednesday, Governor Nathan Deal gave the next to last State of the State address of his term. He’s running out of time in office, with only the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions before his second consecutive four-year term ends.

There’s a lot left to do: an education overhaul, combating the opioid crisis, securing funds for a state court complex and more.

But Deal’s power to get those things done is waning said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political scientist. Bullock said the same thing happens to every governor.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his budget address at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Atlanta. Deal spoke Thursday afternoon to lawmakers charged with reviewing his $45 billion spending plan. Deal limited his comments Thursday to criminal
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia is set to boost the cybersecurity industry in Augusta with a state-owned training facility that’s part of a $50 million plan combining public and private interests, according to a source who was not cleared to speak about the plan until a more formal announcement Wednesday.

Georgia colleges and universities, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Security Agency are set to be involved in the plan.

Al Such / WABE

For at least the third straight year, some Georgia Republicans are set to attempt expanding legal protections for religion.

Last year the legislature passed a bill supported by a broad group of Republican leaders that would have allowed religious groups to justify firing employees or denying services, based on their beliefs. The state's powerful business lobby opposed the bill, and Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed.

Jared Wickerham, File / Associated Press

For years, Georgia's legislature has been studying autonomous vehicles, and how to regulate them.

Now, state Rep. Trey Kelley said manufacturers are looking for new testing grounds, and it’s time Georgia put some new, friendly regulations into law. He plans to file a bill in the 2017 legislative session.  

“We need to be welcoming,” Kelley said.

There aren't self-driving vehicles on Georgia's roads like there are in California or Pittsburgh.

JOHN BAZEMORE / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Although Atlanta temperatures didn’t spike high in to the 100s frequently in 2016, consistently hot days made it the warmest ever on record, according to Jordan McLeod at the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

“We didn't necessarily see a bunch of record breaking daily temperatures, you know, 110 or whatever,” said McLeod. “It was just this very persistent pattern of unusual warmth across the southeast that was really the calling card for this year’s pattern.”

On 136 days this year, Atlanta’s high exceeded 85 degrees, McLeod said. That’s about one-third of the year.

Alison Guillory / WABE

A 2014 study showed Georgia spends less on transit per capita than almost every other state, and the $75 million for bonds the Legislature recently directed to transit projects isn’t likely to change that position significantly.

For state Sen. Steve Gooch, that $75 million wasn’t enough.

Georgia’s pension fund for teachers, with assets of more than $65 billion, is falling further in debt and is the farthest it’s been from breaking even in decades, according to an annual financial report posted in December by the Teacher Retirement System (TRS).

The TRS distributes payments to retired teachers, similar to the smaller Georgia state Employee Retirement System (ERS). To pay for these disbursements both funds rely heavily on income from investments in stocks. 

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

Sen. Johnny Isakson says already established committees should be the first in congress to investigate what the CIA, and FBI have reportedly called an attempt by Russia to sway the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump. The agencies say they’ve concluded Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton campaign staffers during the election.

“We need to determine what we know we know, and what we know we don’t know,” Isakson said. “And the more you know you don’t know is the more need for a committee, but until we get to that point I’m not ready to do it.”

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