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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.

Robert F. Bukaty, File / Associated Press

Maine Gov. Paul LePage isn't backing down on his statements about John Lewis, a black Georgia congressman who risked his life in the fight for civil rights.

The Maine NAACP demanded an apology after the white Republican governor insulted Lewis, who had questioned the legitimacy of Donald Trump's presidential election.

But LePage tells WGME-TV: "I will tell you, there are no apologies."

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.
David Goldman / Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve as agriculture secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision but not authorized to speak publicly before it is announced.

Perdue, 70, would be the first Southerner to lead the Agriculture Department in more than two decades. He comes from the small city of Bonaire in rural central Georgia, where he built businesses in grain trading and trucking.

The agriculture secretary job is the last Cabinet position for which Trump hasn't named a candidate.

Price Tries To Reassure On Health Care; Dems Not Buying It

18 hours ago
Health and Human Services Secretary-designate, Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Offering reassurances, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for health secretary said Wednesday the new administration won't "pull the rug out" from those covered by "Obamacare." Democrats were unimpressed, noting a lack of specifics.

In Final Conference, Obama Defends Last Acts Of His Presidency

19 hours ago
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

President Barack Obama firmly defended his decision to cut nearly three decades off convicted leaker Chelsea Manning's prison term Wednesday, arguing in his final White House news conference that the former Army intelligence analyst had served a "tough prison sentence" already.

President Barack Obama gestures as he leaves the final press briefing with White House press secretary Josh Earnest, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Barack Obama holds his final news conference as commander-in-chief today at 2:15 p.m. from the White House briefing room, two days before leaving office.

You can watch him take questions from reporters live in the above video.

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Gwinnett County

Several people are demanding a Gwinnett County commissioner resign after he called U.S. Rep. John Lewis a "racist pig" in a social media post.

News outlets report dozens of protesters took to the podium during Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting to voice their opinions on Commissioner Tommy Hunter's comments toward Lewis.

Hunter, a Republican, posted on Facebook Saturday that "John Lewis is a racist pig." He later said it was an overreaction to the civil rights leader's criticisms of President-elect Donald Trump.

Price Says Affordability, Access Key To Health Care Reform

Jan 18, 2017
Cliff Owen, File / Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump's pick for health secretary said Wednesday that access and affordability were his goals for revamping health care, and he offered assurances that the new administration is not planning to launch a Medicare overhaul.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the start of a confirmation process that at times turned contentious.

He said the health care system is losing focus on patients, its first priority.

In this Jan. 5, 2016, file Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Carla Dent is a restaurant owner who steers her employees to federal health insurance exchanges. Eden Purdy helps poor and working-class Georgians navigate the health care marketplace. Bryson Boech is a grocery cashier recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, what the insurance industry calls a pre-existing condition.

U.S. Army, File / Associated Press

President Barack Obama commuted the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, allowing the convicted Army leaker to go free nearly three decades early as part of a sweeping move to offer clemency in the final days of his administration.

Manning, who will leave prison in May, was one of 209 inmates whose sentences Obama was shortening, a list that includes Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar Lopez-Rivera. Obama also pardoned 64 people, including retired Gen. James Cartwright, who was charged with making false statements during a probe into disclosure of classified information.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

 

 

Last week, President Barack Obama announced the sudden end of a decades-old immigration policy which granted special privileges to Cubans entering the United States.

 

It was called the “wet-foot, dry foot” policy. It meant Cubans who set foot on U.S. soil, could stay and would be fast-tracked to citizenship. It’s termination is the latest step by the Obama administration toward more normal relations with the island nation.

 

Donald Trump rallies supporters in Atlanta.
Al Such / WABE

On Monday, the Associated Press reports, President-elect Donald Trump spoke of national unity to a son of Martin Luther King Jr., seeking to ease friction over the president-elect's squabble with Rep. John Lewis, a protege of the slain civil rights leader. By Tuesday, he was dinging Lewis again. 

During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Lewis said Trump's inauguration would be the first he'd skipped during his career as congressman. Renewing the feud that sparked controversy this weekend, Trump tweeted that Lewis's claim was untrue. 

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

Georgia lawmakers will be looking at a record $25 billion budget when they hold joint budget hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.

The budget for fiscal year 2018 includes pay raises for state employees, money for autism treatment services for children under Medicaid, and resources for various construction projects.

Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is likely to become the next U.S. attorney general. While there has been focus on his civil rights record, his stance on waterboarding and the idea of a Muslim registry, there’s another, more regional issue he’s been involved in. It’s an issue that affects all Atlantans: the water wars.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia have been fighting over the water in Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona for decades.  Alabama and Florida say Georgia – especially Atlanta – uses too much water from those reservoirs.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a South Carolina Republican primary night event in Spartanburg, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.
Paul Sancya / Associated Press

Donald Trump is lashing out at a Georgia congressman who described the Republican as an illegitimate president.

Trump tweeted on Saturday that Democrat John Lewis "should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results."

David Goldman / Associated Press

It was a busy first week of the Georgia Legislature's 2017-18 session.  Governor Deal delivered his State of the State message, with a focus on failing schools; supporters of a "campus carry" bill took their first steps toward reviving it; and there were quiet, high-level meetings about possible casino legislation.

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.

NICK NESMITH / WABE

A Georgia lawmaker wants bigger tax breaks for donations given to rural hospitals.

A state law passed last year offers corporations and individuals tax credits worth 70 percent of donations to rural hospitals. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the program hasn't lured many donors — with applications coming in for only 2 percent of $50 million in available credits.

Many rural hospitals in Georgia are struggling. The tax break for donors was intended to give them a financial lifeline.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks with WABE's Denis O'Hayer about his efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease.
Alison Guillory / WABE

On Jan. 20, former President Jimmy Carter will be at the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. When the two men meet, the former president says he'll talk to the new one about the Carter Center's three-decade effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, which has long plagued parts of Africa. The parasite, which people get from drinking contaminated water, can disable victims for months.

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.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal pushed for more access to mental health care services, called for changes to education and warned against big healthcare policy changes during his annual State of the State address Wednesday.

Deal proposed a 19 percent pay raise, on average, for caseworkers with the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS), which handles foster care cases in the state.

He also announced that his proposed budget would include money to expand healthcare coverage for children with behavioral issues, as well as for people diagnosed with autism.

Cliff Owen / Associated Press

Black lawmakers said Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Sessions at times has shown hostility toward civil rights, making him unfit to be attorney general, as a 1986 letter from the widow of Martin Luther King Jr., surfaced strongly expressing opposition to the Alabama senator.

In the second day of confirmation hearings, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Sessions' colleague, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was beaten when he marched for civil rights in the 1960s, warned that Sessions could move the country backward if confirmed as Donald Trump's top law enforcement official.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal is asking Georgia lawmakers to support a new plan for fixing low-performing schools after voters last fall rejected a proposal for state takeovers of schools that consistently struggle.

The Republican governor said in his State of the State speech Wednesday that nearly 89,000 students were stuck in failing schools last year and their number "will grow with each passing school year" if nothing is done.

Deal says he's working with legislative leaders on a bill for lawmakers to consider this year. He offered no specifics of the new turnaround plan.

Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

In his farewell address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama talked about some of the campaign promises that he fulfilled during his eight years in office. But the checkers at PolitiFact found some went unfulfilled too, while others ended with compromises on what the president originally intended.

On "Morning Edition," PolitiFact Georgia editor Jim Tharpe looked at the fate of a few of the president's promises, in a conversation with Denis O'Hayer.

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President-elect Donald Trump calls to media from the entryway of Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016 in Bedminster, N.J..
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President-elect Donald Trump conducts his first news conference since winning the election today at 11 a.m. at Trump Tower in New York.

Follow along with the NPR Politics team and reporters who will be live-annotating the news conference. They will be fact-checking and providing background to his remarks in real-time, paying special attention to any comments about conflicts of interest, health care and national security.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks during an Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review for him, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, at Conmy Hall, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

After eight years as president of the United States, Barack Obama will give his farewell address on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. in Chicago.

You can watch the speech live above or on WABE.org. You can also follow along with NPR's live fact check below, in which the NPR Politics team and reporters will be live-annotating a transcript of the address.

A DeKalb County commissioner has kicked off the new year by proposing another new city.

The city of Prosperity would include Panthersville, Ellenwood, Glenwood and more neighborhoods within DeKalb's 3rd District, in the southern part of the county. Commissioner Larry Johnson represents the area and announced the proposed city at a public meeting Tuesday.

"If people keep taking all of our valuable pieces of land – the cities – they'll be nothing left for us to make sure that we have and then our taxes will go up with nothing to protect us," Johnson said.

Al Such / WABE

Expansion projects aimed at relieving traffic congestion will begin soon on stretches of interstate highway in metro Atlanta and Savannah, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday.

Deal told a breakfast of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce that work to widen portions of Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County and I-16 in Savannah is slated to begin in the 2018 fiscal year that starts July 1.

Sessions Says He'd Be Fair As AG, Defy Trump If Necessary

Jan 10, 2017
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Sen. Jeff Sessions cast himself as a strong protector of law and order at his confirmation hearing Tuesday, promising that as attorney general he would crack down on illegal immigration, gun violence and the "scourge of radical Islamic terrorism."

Sessions, echoing rhetoric used on the campaign trail by President-elect Donald Trump, warned of a country struggling to combat illegal drugs flooding across the border, spikes in violent crime in American cities and low morale among police.

David Goldman / Associated Press

On Monday, the Georgia Legislature convened for its 2017-2018 session.  

From old battles like guns on college campuses and "religious freedom" bills, to responding to the new administration's decision on Obamacare, state lawmakers will face some big and complicated issues this new year.  On "Morning Edition," WABE reporters Elly Yu and Johnny Kauffman talked with Denis O'Hayer about what to expect.

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