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.

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.”

Courtesy of the National Conference of State Legislatures

Retiring state Rep. LaDawn Jones has a lot of reasons for leaving the Georgia Legislature. She’s the mother of a 6-year-old and a 9-year-old, both her parents recently passed away and she runs her own law firm.

One thing that might have kept Jones in the Legislature: more money.

“I could not dare ask my family to continue to make such a big sacrifice without that help,” she said.

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

A hospital lobbyist gives money to a state lawmaker running for U.S. Congress, and the candidate turns around and votes on a hospital bill in the Georgia state legislature.

It’s an ethical problem that will likely appear when state lawmakers gather in Atlanta for the annual legislative session.

“It creates conflicts, or certainly the potential for a conflict,” said State Senator Josh McKoon. “If you’re going to go run for congress, run for congress. If you’re going to be a state legislator, be a state legislator.”

Stephan Savoia / Associated Press

Naloxone, a medication used to prevent overdose from opioids, can be legally obtained at Georgia pharmacies without a prescription, after Gov. Nathan Deal directed the Georgia Pharmacy Board and Department of Public Health to issue what amounts to a “statewide prescription.”

Also known as an “opioid antagonist,” naloxone is administered when a drug user begins to show the effects of an overdose, countering those effects, and potentially saving the victim's life.

The HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

With the state legislative session a month away, Georgia lawmakers and advocates want details on how exactly Republicans in Washington will repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Before that, they say, there’s little they can do to significantly reduce Georgia’s uninsured population, which is somewhere above one million.  Georgia has one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.

For years, Ga. House Speaker David Ralston has led a push in the Georgia Legislature to expand where licensed gun owners can legally carry their weapons.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal this spring vetoed a measure passed by the Georgia Legislature that would have allowed licensed gun owners to carry their weapons on campus at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.

But lawmakers are working on a new version of the “campus carry” bill for the legislative session set to begin in January, House Speaker David Ralston said in an interview Wednesday.

Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue speaks in support of his cousin, Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue, at an election night party, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Atlanta.
AP Photo/David Goldman

Another prominent Georgia Republican may be in line to take a seat in Donald Trump’s cabinet. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue met with the president-elect Wednesday.

Perdue is on a list of potential picks for secretary of agriculture, according to Politico. The list includes Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman; and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, amongst others.

Brenna Beech / WABE

State lawmakers make decisions about tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, but under a new rule from state auditors only a few dozen of the most powerful lawmakers will be able to request information about how exactly those decisions will affect the state’s finances.

Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline Company business development manager Dan Gardner speaks to legislators on the petroleum pipeline study committee.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

A business development manager for the Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline Company told a Georgia legislative committee Thursday it continues to consider expansion following two incidents that spilled gas in a rural parts of Alabama.

“Demand for our services exceed supply. We’ve been full for going on 5 years now. We’re constantly looking at ways to expand.” said Don Gardner. “Shippers certainly want us to and we try to.”

Ga. House Democrats held a hearing Tuesday on policing reform.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

Georgia Democrats said Tuesday they see renewed hope for statewide policing reform following Gov. Nathan Deal’s appointment of a task force on the issue.

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

Sen. Johnny Isakson says his relationship with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a close ally of president-elect Donald Trump, will help him push through Washington a major overhaul of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

“I know Speaker Gingrich has been involved a lot with me in the last couple of years working on it, and now that he's a close friend of [Trump’s] I'm sure he'll help us out,” Isakson said at a Veterans Day event in Cobb County.

Al Such / WABE

Donald Trump’s win is set to ripple through Georgia politics in the coming months and beyond, potentially redirecting expected state policy changes on issues like education, health care and religious rights.

Trump’s win “sends a signal” to the state Legislature, said Republican state Sen. Michael Williams of Cumming. He called himself the first Republican official in Georgia to endorse the now president-elect.

“I think the discussions that we have are going to dramatically change based on the leadership that we see from Donald Trump,” Williams said.

Al Such / WABE

With his third consecutive Senate win, Johnny Isakson locked himself into place as one of the most successful politicians in Georgia history.

Republican Isakson defeated Democrat Jim Barksdale convincingly Tuesday night.   

Isakson told Republican supporters at a hotel in Buckhead nobody knows what the big issue will be in his next six-year term, but he promised them he’s ready.

A sunken boat is exposed by receding water levels on Lake Lanier. Rainfall is expected Monday night, but water restrictions are expected to stay in place through the winter months.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Restrictions on car washing, lawn watering and even running ornamental fountains could be coming to Georgia “very soon,” according to Gov. Nathan Deal.

“Obviously the best answer to all of this is to have rainfall,” Deal said, “But we can take proactive steps to try to preserve and conserve as much as possible.”

Associated Press

Georgians regularly choose which politicians they want to represent them in state government. Governors and statewide officials are elected every four years, and legislators every two. Voters this year have a rare opportunity to say how powerful one of those politicians should be, the governor.

Jim Smith steps out of a voting booth after marking his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H.
David Goldman / Associated Press

This Election Day there may be even more attention than usual on polling places after Donald Trump's claims the voting process could be rigged.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgians are early voting at a higher rate than in previous presidential election years, according to recent data from the Secretary of State’s office.

938,804 total ballots had been cast as of Wednesday morning. On Oct. 25, 2012, 879,449 ballots had been cast.

Between Sept. 19 and Oct. 16, 2008, 777,424 ballots had been cast. That was before Georgia’s early voting days were reduced by the legislature in 2010.

Shauna Dozier, Clayton County’s election director, expects many more people will vote this weekend.

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

Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign says it’s considering sending more money and resources to Georgia, one of a few Republican-dominated states the campaign is eyeing as a possible win if Clinton takes the election in a landslide. But despite talk that Georgia is a presidential battleground, there’s little to no chance Democrats will gain control of the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

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In an election year when both major party candidates for president are unpopular, and allegations of sexual assault directed on both sides are dominating the race, Evan McMullin made the case to Atlanta voters he’s a conservative alternative to Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

A federal judge has ordered an extension of the voter registration deadline for one county in coastal Georgia after Hurricane Matthew disrupted the final sign-up days for new voters.

U.S. District Court Judge William T. Moore Jr. ruled Friday that voters in Savannah and surrounding Chatham County must be allowed to register through next Tuesday. Moore said in the ruling that granting the extension was "the right thing to do."

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

Gov. Nathan Deal this week said in “many, many cases” people living in failing school districts “don’t have anything worth stealing.” He warned attendees at an engineering association lunch at the Commerce Club in Atlanta that criminals living in those school districts “go where people have nice cars, nice homes, things that are worth a criminal’s attention.”

georgia voting sticker
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Voter registration groups making a final push to sign people up ahead of Tuesday’s deadline are now turning their attention toward getting people to vote early.

After the controversy over presidential election results in 2000, Helen Butler began helping Georgians who feel they are wrongly turned away from the polls.

She heads the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda, a social justice nonprofit, and says voting early allows for more time to address problems.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Tuesday just before midnight is the deadline to register to vote in Georgia.

“You can go to the Secretary of State's website and register through our online process. Even if you have a problem doing that, you can still print out an application fill it out and drop that in the mail,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.  

If Georgians can't do that, hard copies of voter registration applications are available through libraries and nonprofits groups around the state, he said.

Attorney General Sam Olens speaks during a news conference announcing a new campaign targeting sex trafficking, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens looks set to become the next president of Kennesaw State University. If that happens, Gov. Nathan Deal would appoint the next attorney general, according to the state constitution.

How active a new attorney general would be depends on how closely aligned they are with the governor, Mike Bowers said. He's a former Georgia attorney general himself.

Exterior shots of the Georgia Supreme Court
Alison Guillory / WABE

Out of hundreds of names and dozens of interviews, the Judicial Nominating Commission, which names potential state Supreme Court judges, has narrowed the list to 13.

Gov. Nathan Deal is set to appoint three new people to the court, but he isn't obligated to pick from the list, according to commission co-chair Randy Evans.

“Gov. Deal has been pretty consistent in that he selects judges from the Judicial Nominating Commission list,” Evans said.

Evans said the group worked to present a diverse list of potential justices.

Alison Guillory / WABE

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said at a community forum Monday she's proud of the Atlanta Police Department -- and local communities -- for working closely together

Yates is former U. S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

The forum in Atlanta included criminal justice and civil rights leaders like Andrew Young and C. T. Vivian. It was closed to the media. 

But during some opening statements, Yates said it's not the events of Ferguson or Charlotte that are causing a rift between law enforcement and people of color.

In this Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, photo, U.S. Senate democratic candidate Jim Barksdale, who is looking to unseat Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., speaks during a phone banking/meet and greet with DeKalb Young Democrats at Avondale Pizza Cafe in Decatur, Ga.
AP Photo/Branden Camp

It may not be surprising that at a recent Democratic fundraiser in Athens, many in the audience didn’t know who businessman Jim Barksdale was until after his short speech. Politicians like former gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, or state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, were more familiar to the people gathered.

What makes the situation unusual is that Barksdale is running for Senate, an office more powerful than any held by the Democrats who spoke longer than him and drew louder applause at the fundraiser.

Voter approval of a ballot measure that would allow the state of Georgia to take over schools it deems “chronically failing” could be overturned after the November election. That's according to a class-action lawsuit backed by groups opposed to Gov. Nathan Deal’s education proposal. The suit says the wording of the measure is “misleading.”

Eboni Lemon / WABE

Atlanta School Board chair Courtney English has officially declared his intent to run for Atlanta City Council post 1 at-large, a seat currently held by longtime councilman Michael Julian Bond. English filed documents with the city of Atlanta last Thursday declaring his intent.

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