Gov. Nathan Deal | WABE 90.1 FM

Gov. Nathan Deal

Johnny Kauffman / WABE

On a recent sunny, weekday morning, it was hard to find parking outside Lee Arrendale State Prison in north Georgia, little over an hour drive from Atlanta.

You don’t just stumble on this prison. It’s hard to see around the sharp turns that take visitors here on roads past green hills, and dilapidated trailer homes.

Getting inside means passing through a metal detector and six locked doors. Personal cell phones must be turned over to security. Visitors are happy to do it because many of their daughters, sisters, and mothers are inside.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday voiced his support for cuts to Medicaid in a controversial Senate health care bill that experts said would leave Georgia lawmakers with a difficult choice about whether to spend more taxpayer money on health care, or reduce the 1.7 million Georgians who rely on the program.

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Michael Probst / associated press file

A group of Georgia officials will study the state's approach to providing mental health care for children and recommend future changes.

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Gov. Nathan Deal issued an executive order Wednesday forming the Commission on Children's Mental Health.

Members include the leaders of several state agencies focused on health, Deal's budget director and representatives for outside advocacy groups.


A state senator who was the first elected official in Georgia to back Donald Trump's presidential campaign is jumping into the 2018 governor's race.

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State Sen. Michael Williams, R-Cumming, announced his plans last week. Williams joins Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Hunter Hill bidding to replace term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal.

For Democrats, state Reps. Stacey Evans and Stacey Abrams have launched their campaigns.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao paid a visit to the newly rebuilt I-85 bridge Thursday.

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Chao joined Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials under the reconstructed interstate overpass in Atlanta for a rededication ceremony.

She praised the completed bridge as an example of local, state and federal agencies collaborating to get something done.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Last month, Republican Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed the First Priority Act, his latest plan to improve the performance of chronically-struggling schools in the state.  The measure offers state resources and assistance to those schools — many of which are in the Atlanta area — but it also raises some questions about how it will work, and who will pay for it.

Susan Walsh / Associated Press file

Even in a world that is now accustomed to big surprises, it was a dizzying week in politics.

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President Donald Trump, who had just visited the Atlanta area to support Karen Handel's 6th Congressional District campaign, abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey. 

That event, in turn, could affect the close battle for the seat left vacant by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price -- at least according to political strategists Brian Robinson and Tharon Johnson.

In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a sign is seen at the entrance to a hall for a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School.
Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed nine bills this week. Among them was legislation that would've let students opt-out of state tests without consequences. In a statement, the governor said House Bill 425 isn't needed because kids can withdraw from testing under current law.

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But Meg Norris, a teacher and parent, said kids who opt out are often punished.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Police departments near Georgia’s biggest universities said they don’t have immediate plans to increase security around campus boundaries after Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters Tuesday he wasn’t “satisfied” with what local law enforcement have done to protect students.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a press conference to announce he has vetoed legislation allowing clergy to refuse performing gay marriage and protecting people who refuse to attend the ceremonies Monday, March 28, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia teachers will get a 2 percent salary increase while state employees who handle child welfare cases will see a 19 percent raise under the state budget.

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Gov. Nathan Deal highlighted the increases for child welfare case managers at a Monday ceremony to sign the $49 billion spending plan.

Of the total, nearly $25 billion comes from the state, with the rest coming from federal sources.

David Goldman / Associated Press

As Gov. Nathan Deal considers whether to sign a bill that would legalize guns in some areas on public college campuses, he said Monday he isn’t “satisfied” at local law enforcement efforts to help protect students around campuses.

“I view the issue as not just one of on the campus, as much as it is off the campus,” Deal said.  

He said he’s concerned about students who are going to and from campus, like to parking lots, apartments and other areas.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / associated press file

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation giving the state broad authority to intervene at struggling local schools.


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The bill is an alternative to Deal's preferred strategy for these schools: A constitutional amendment seeking to let the state take over some schools that voters rejected in November.


Interfaith Group Opposes 'Campus Carry' Bill

Apr 20, 2017
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WABE

Outcry, an interfaith anti-violence group is asking Gov. Nathan Deal to veto House Bill 280, commonly known as the "campus carry" bill.

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"I, myself, am a supporter of the Second Amendment. My father and my grandfather spent some of their careers in law enforcement. However, campuses don't need more guns," said James Lamkin, pastor of Atlanta's Northside Drive Baptist Church.

Al Such / WABE

At the beginning of 2017, Erika Shields became Atlanta's new police chief.  In her first three months on the job, she has emphasized that preventing violent crime is her priority.  Shields now leads a force where she has spent 22 years -- in jobs from beat patrols, to vice enforcement, to internal affairs, to deputy chief.

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Shields talked about her career, and her priorities, in a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition."

Al Such / WABE

Thursday is the final day – this year, anyway – for bills to pass in the state Legislature. With a deadline set at midnight, lawmakers will work through the day, and probably well into the night.

On "Morning Edition," Denis O'Hayer stopped by the State Capitol, where he talked with WABE's Johnny Kauffman and Elly Yu in an anteroom just off the House floor. The two reporters, who've covered this session from the beginning, gave a preview of what could happen to the high-profile bills still hanging in the balance.

Georgia State Capitol gold dome.
Al Such / WABE

State lawmakers worked late into the evening Tuesday, rushing to pass legislation affecting Georgians' income taxes, treatment for opioid addiction and a strategy to turn around the state's lowest performing schools.

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Tuesday marked the 39th day of the 40-day legislative session. Lawmakers plan to adjourn Thursday. The rush to pass bills before the end of the 40th day can lead to dramatic last-minute changes to legislation — either accidental or intentional amid the chaos.

Casey Cagle at the Georgia Senate.
Al Such / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal may be looking forward to signing one of the bills that will soon make its way to his desk. The state Senate approved his plan to turn around low-performing schools Friday in a vote of 37-18.

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House Bill 338, also called the ‘First Priority Act,’ would create turnaround specialists to work with struggling schools. They would evaluate students and provide resources to help them improve.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

As U.S. House Republican leaders scrambled to win enough votes to pass their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), Georgia's Republican officeholders were still trying to find out how the plan would affect the state – especially its Medicaid program.  

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The House Republican healthcare plan has been met with derision and skepticism from politicians and the public alike.
J. Scott Applewhite, File / Associated Press

Top Georgia Republicans so far have been fairly quiet about the plan from U.S. House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (also called Obamacare).

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Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods in his office at the state Capitol, Feb. 13, 2015.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal has said his top priority this year is to address struggling schools. That's what House Bill 338 aims to do. The plan creates a "Chief Turnaround Officer" to oversee low-performing schools. But there's disagreement on who that person should report to.

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The bill calls for the person in that new position to report to the state board of education.

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

Next year will be Gov. Nathan Deal's last legislative session as voters head to the polls in November to elect a new governor.

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Georgia's House Speaker David Ralston is one person at the top of the list who is expected to run.

But for now, at least, he's not talking about considering a run.

"I don't think it's appropriate to think or talk about that particularly during a legislative session," Ralston said. "I mean, we have enough distractions as it is."

Lisa Hagen / WABE


If you were near downtown Atlanta at the crack of dawn Sunday, you might have heard what sounded like about 500 pounds of explosives being set off. You were right. That was the sound of the old Georgia Archives building being imploded.

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An estimated crowd of 1,400 people looked on as Gov. Nathan Deal shouted “Fire in the hole!,” capping off the countdown to demolish the building sometimes called “the white ice cube.”

Georgia Capitol Building
Al Such / WABE

A bill aimed at turning around struggling schools easily passed the Georgia House Wednesday.

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The measure is Gov. Nathan Deal’s second attempt to address the state’s lowest-performing schools. Georgians voted down a proposal that would have let the state take over struggling schools. Opponents of that plan said it would override the authority of local school boards.

Elly Yu / WABE

A Georgia House committee approved a bill Monday that would allow licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons on public college campuses.

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"This is changing the dynamic, and it's allowing people and affording the opportunity to defend themselves," said Rep. Mandi Ballinger, R-Canton, sponsor of the bill. 

Jeff Roberson / Associated Press

This week, an internal fight among Democrats about the future of their party culminated in Atlanta, with the election of a new party chair.  Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress were trying to decide whether to hold town hall meetings in their districts -- meetings that might be filled with voters who are angry about the policies of the new Trump administration.

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In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to reporters following a ceremony announcing a $300 million expansion of Google's data center operations in Lithia Springs, Ga.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal scored a Legislative win Thursday when the House Education Committee approved his new plan to turn around low-performing schools.

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David Goldman / Associated Press

A group of state Senate Republicans has proposed legislation that they say protects the people's religious rights. 

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The measure says the state government should follow the pattern set out in the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

That law says the Federal government must show a "compelling government interest" before it can restrict someone's exercise of religion.

The new bill is not as broad as the one vetoed by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal last year. 

Georgia state capitol
Nick Nesmith / WABE

When schools struggle academically, is the state obligated to intervene? If so, to what degree? Georgia's House Education Committee wrestled with those questions Thursday during a hearing for a bill that targets low-performing schools.

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The bill is considered a replacement for the governor's school takeover plan, which was defeated by referendum in November.

A school bus in front of the Georgia Capitol
Alison Guillory / WABE

In early February, Gov. Nathan Deal sent lawmakers his latest plan to turn around failing schools in Georgia. The governor had promised the new proposal, after his Opportunity School District (OSD, sometimes called the "school takeover" plan) was rejected by the state's voters last November.

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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 voters said ‘no’ in November to a constitutional amendment that would’ve let the state takeover some low-performing schools. The 'Opportunity School District' plan was championed by Gov. Nathan Deal, who promised to come up with a replacement after the vote failed.  Now, he has.