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Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press

Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he has opposed the agency in lawsuits, and Georgia has often sided with him.

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Georgia State Capitol gold dome.
Al Such / WABE

The Georgia House of Representatives on Friday approved a $25 billion state budget, which includes salary raises for thousands of state employees.

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Seth Wenig / Associated Press

Licensed gun owners could carry concealed handguns on public college campuses under legislation advancing in the Georgia House.

A panel approved the bill on Thursday after about an hour of testimony, sending it to the House's full Public Safety Committee. The measure would allow anyone age 21 and up to carry a concealed handgun on campus with a state-issued permit.

Georgia's Republican Gov. Nathan Deal last year vetoed similar legislation. The University System of Georgia also has opposed past efforts.

Toby Talbot, File / Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would further regulate opioid treatment centers in the state.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, would put into place new requirements for those wanting to open up centers in Georgia. The centers offer medical-assisted treatment and counseling to help treat patients with addictions to heroin and other opioids.

Al Such / WABE

It would be illegal to secretly take films or photos under a person's clothes, under a bill passed by the Georgia Senate.

Senators voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the proposal and sent it to the House where it will likely get a vote in the coming weeks.

Lawmakers decided to take action last summer after a divided state Court of Appeals found that a man didn't break any Georgia laws when he filmed up a woman's skirt while she shopped at a grocery store - a practice known as "upskirting."

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Andrew Puzder says he is withdrawing as President Donald Trump's nominee for labor secretary.

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The fast food executive says in a statement provided to The Associated Press that he was "honored to have been considered by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Labor and put America's workers and businesses back on a path to sustainable prosperity."

Puzder says "while I won't be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team."

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

President Donald Trump is the latest in a succession of U.S. presidents pledging unbreakable support for Israel. Last year, for instance, the US signed a $38-Billion military aid package with the Israelis even as Washington pressed Israel to make peace with the Palestinians.

As a presidential candidate, Trump signaled an intent to bolster Israel in even more demonstrative ways. But lately, in the early days of the Trump administration, the language of support has become somewhat less robust. 

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Late on Monday, the Washington Post was the first to report that former Atlanta U.S. Attorney Sally Yates warned Trump administration officials that then-national security advisor Michael Flynn had not told the truth about the nature of his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

The scramble to succeed Health Secretary Tom Price as Georgia congressman may quickly become a referendum on the popularity and agenda of Price's new boss, President Donald Trump, while offering a preview of 2018's midterm elections.

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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.

Canada's Trudeau Talks Trade With Trump At White House

Feb 13, 2017
President Donald Trump welcomes Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeatedly stressed their commitment to working together after their first face-to-face meeting Monday.

The neighboring leaders, polar opposites in nearly every way, took up the thorny subjects of trade and immigration, with Trudeau eager to build a relationship with the new U.S. president.

Harry Lightsey, GM's executive director of public policy on emerging technologies, spoke at the Senate Science and Technology Committee’s hearing on self-driving cars on Thursday.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

There is a lot of fear around self-driving cars, but it's not just the public that is unfamiliar with these cars of the future.

Georgia lawmakers are trying to figure out how to regulate autonomous vehicles and what to regulate.

Minimal Regulations

At the State Capitol, more than 50 people gathered around Heather Maxfield. 

"We want to be able to test autonomous vehicles here in GA in controlled situations,” Maxfield said. “What we would not want to see is regulation that would hamper them from testing or utilizing the autonomous vehicles.”

Gerald Herbert / Associated Press

A Georgia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would create up to 100 nonprofit health centers to serve low-income patients across the state.  

State Rep. Geoff Duncan of Cumming said the clinics, known as federally-qualified health centers, would be eligible to receive federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. There are already about 200 centers of this kind in the state, he said.

Duncan said more clinics could help support the state's rural hospitals and give people closer access to health care.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

President Donald Trump welcomed Japan's prime minister to the White House with a warm embrace Friday as they looked to shore up a long-standing security alliance and repair economic ties shaken by U.S. withdrawal from a Pacific trade pact.

Trump greeted Shinzo Abe as he arrived in his black sedan at the doors of the West Wing. Abe, a nationalist adept at forging relationships with strongmen leaders, was the only world leader to meet the Republican before his inauguration and is the second to do so since the new president took office.

Al Such

As if the dizzying rush of events in Washington were not enough, Atlanta area politics have gone through a frenzied week, too.  

Mayor Kasim Reed held a news conference and released more than a million pages of documents relating to the City Hall bribery scandal; airport officials tried to assess the possible impact of President Donald Trump's travel order (if it's upheld by the courts); and gun rights advocates brought "campus carry" legislation back to the State Capitol.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Georgia's governor has called for a special election to fill the congressional seat formerly held by President Donald Trump's new health secretary.

Gov. Nathan Deal said Friday that he's set an April 18 election date to fill Tom Price's former congressional seat representing many of Atlanta's northern suburbs. Candidates will begin qualifying on Monday and must file by Wednesday.

If a runoff election is required, it will be held on June 20.

The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Price's nomination to head the Health and Human Services Department early Friday.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia lawmakers are trying to work on a plan to get more donations to struggling rural hospitals. A state House committee Thursday passed a bill that would increase the amount of tax credits people can claim when donating to rural hospitals.  

State Rep. Geoff Duncan, R-Cumming, sponsored a bill last year creating the tax credit program. His bill this year would increase the tax credit amount from 70 to 90 percent.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has been confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary.

The 52 to 47 vote along party lines came early Friday morning. Democratic officials had stalled the vote until nearly 2 a.m., making claims that Price would cut health care for millions of Americans.

Price has been a critic of the Affordable Care and while in Congress proposed a plan that he said would be a better replacement.

Supporters like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell say Price will stabilize health care markets.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

A federal appeals court in San Francisco has refused to reinstate President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday wouldn't block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously barred travelers to enter the U.S. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is the new U.S. attorney general.

So what does that mean for his former neighboring state of Georgia?

"He is going to be ... not extreme right, but he’s very conservative and I think most Georgia voters probably agree with his priorities," said Dr. Kerwin Swint, a political professor at Kennesaw State. 

Al Such / WABE

As Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed prepared for a news conference about the developing bribery scandal at City Hall, one big question dominated everything else: who took money in exchange for city contract awards? The Reed administration is releasing more than a million pages of documents related to the case.

Andrew Harnik / WABE

Republicans pushed President Donald Trump's pick for health secretary toward Senate confirmation on Thursday, overpowering Democrats who complained that the GOP drive to erase and replace former President Obama's health care law will end up taking away peoples' coverage.

The debate over the nomination of Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head the Health and Human Services Department was the latest over Trump's choices, which have prompted near party-line votes and helped fuel a sour atmosphere in the new president's first weeks.

Federal prosecutors have indicted a second construction company owner, who they say paid someone to get city of Atlanta contracts.

The indictment says 64-year-old Charles Richards of Tucker, who owns C.P. Richards Construction Company, paid at least $185,000 in bribes from 2010 to August 2015 to get the contracts. He's accused of conspiring with Elvin R. Mitchell Jr. to buy lucrative construction-related contracts.

Pixabay Images

A proposal to lower the amount of THC allowed in medical cannabis oil used by Georgians has cleared a state Senate committee.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill that would cut the legal level of THC — one of the intoxicating chemicals found in marijuana — to 3 percent. Qualifying patients have been able to legally possess cannabis oil with 5 percent THC since 2015.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia state lawmakers are trying to figure out how to stop surprise medical billing.

It happened to Vicki Willard. She went to the emergency room to check on a heart issue.

“I was admitted to the hospital, in network, things went well,” Willard said.

Then, weeks later, she got something unexpected in the mail.

“After I’ve paid all my regular bills, I see a bill come across my desk for $700,” Willard said.

It turns out, one of the cardiologists who treated her was outside her insurance network.

Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston has dropped criminal charges against a former county official who was accused of pressuring vendors for campaign contributions.

Boston said at a news conference Monday that she decided against moving forward with a retrial against former DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis after the Georgia Supreme Court threw out Ellis' conviction in November.

Boston says a judge signed an order to dismiss Ellis' charges earlier Monday.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Georgia lawmakers want fire departments to provide additional insurance coverage for firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer.

Tuesday's House vote comes months after Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed changes to state workers' compensation law letting firefighters diagnosed with cancer make a financial claim.

Local governments feared that approach was too expensive.

Groups representing local governments and firefighters met this year to compromise. The House approved the resulting bill, 171 yes votes to 1. It goes to the Senate.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

 

 

The U.S. House of Representatives is trying to roll back an Obama-era rule that sought to restrict firearms access to some people suffering with mental illness.

Meanwhile in Georgia, lawmakers are working to close a gap in an existing state law on gun possession for those with serious mental illness.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates listens while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

It was a dizzying week in Georgia politics. Leaders from the state – and from both sides of the aisle – played central roles in the ongoing battles in Washington. Meanwhile, Atlanta's City Hall was engulfed by a developing scandal involving bribes, just as Mayor Kasim Reed delivered his final State of the City address. Business owner Elvin "E.R." Mitchell pled guilty to federal conspiracy charges in January; this week, the mayor agreed to release more than a million pages of documents related to the case.

Mary-Pat Hector held a press conference Thursday about potentially being disqualified a month into her campaign. She is 19 years old and a student at Spelman College.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Next week, DeKalb County elections officials will decide how you old you have to be to run for office in the new city of Stonecrest.

A 19-year-old Spelman student, Mary-Pat Hector, is running for City Council, but one of her opponents is contesting her candidacy because of her age.

"I'm not fighting this just for myself, but for young people all over the country who believe that they could, but who are not being allowed to run for office," Hector said.

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