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Georgia Senate Considers Bill To Regulate Fracking

9 hours ago
Georgia Capitol Building
Al Such / WABE

A bill before the Georgia Senate would regulate fracking in the state.

Chuck Mueller, director of cross media programs with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said local officials from eight counties in northwest Georgia asked for the bill. Northwest Georgia happens to have the only land in the state suitable for fracking.

The term is slang for fracturing, which is a high-pressure technique of drilling a liquid mixture into the earth to extract oil or natural gas.

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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Ivanka Trump: A White House Force, Just Not An 'Employee'

16 hours ago
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / associated press file

President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump will have a security clearance, a West Wing office and the ear of her father on important policy matters. But don't call her an employee.

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When it comes to government work, "employee" is more than just a word. That designation triggers an array of transparency and ethical provisions, including a law prohibiting conflicts of interest.

Georgia Capitol Interior
Al Such / WABE

Georgia lawmakers are revising controversial redistricting plans, but public opposition remains strong.

 

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A Senate committee approved replacement district maps early Friday that removed four of the initial nine proposed changes. It will need to be approved by both chambers before becoming law.

 

Democratic senators voiced heavy opposition and said that they never received an updated version of the proposal ahead of the meeting.

 

Georgia state capitol
Nick Nesmith / WABE

 

A controversial bill that would require Georgia colleges to report campus sexual assaults to law enforcement stalled Thursday in the state Senate.

 

The bill has been vigorously opposed by rape survivors and groups advocating for them. They say mandating police reporting would discourage survivors from coming forward.

 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

The nominee for agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, on Thursday sought to reassure farm-state senators fearful about the impact of President Donald Trump's proposed deep cuts to farm programs, promising to work with Democrats to create jobs in the struggling industry.

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During the hearing, Senators from the Senate Agricultural Committee asked Perdue how he felt about Trump's budget, which includes a 21 percent cut to the USDA's discretionary spending. 

Josh Edelson / AP Images for Lyft

A group of state senators in Georgia is proposing to remove all taxes on transportation.

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The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday heard a bill that would allow the state to better collect taxes from ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft.

 

But during debate, senators changed the proposal to eliminate transportation taxes entirely. They said the removal would fix the problem of unfair taxing.

 

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Judge Neil Gorsuch has been grilled by the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 18 hours of questioning over two separate days, and the proceedings are not finished yet.

On Thursday, the committee hears testimony from witnesses about Gorsuch's qualifications to be a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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

As the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote Thursday on the healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaders in Georgia have expressed mixed views about the plan. 

So far, many of Georgia's Republican members in the U.S. House appear to support the bill. But Wednesday, a spokesperson for Congressman Jody Hice, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said Hice was opposed to the measure.  

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

Sen. Johnny Isakson is recuperating from his second back surgery this year at his Georgia home, complicating Republican leaders' plans as they count the votes for the GOP health care overhaul and a Supreme Court nominee.

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Aides to the third-term Republican senator said Wednesday that Isakson is still awaiting his physician's approval to travel back to Washington.

 

Rob Griffith / Associated Press

 

 

Remember the "Burqa Ban?"

Last November a Georgia lawmaker introduced, and then quickly withdrew, a measure many believed targeted Muslim women wearing face veils. The bill may be long dead, buried under a firestorm of instant resistance from both the right and the left, but on certain parts of the Internet, Georgia is still making headlines.

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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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AP file

Citizens of the brand new cities of Stonecrest and South Fulton are choosing their first-ever elected officials Tuesday as special elections take place around the metro Atlanta area.

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Voters in Cobb County and the city of Marietta are also at the polls Tuesday with a referendum on the countywide ballot for a sales tax funding school construction. In Fayette County, a sales tax paying for general infrastructure improvements is on the ballot.

Georgia State Capitol gold dome.
Al Such / WABE

Organizations in Georgia say proposed changes to several state legislative districts are "likely illegal" and want lawmakers to stop the effort.

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In a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal and legislative leaders, the organizations say the changes move black voters out of two House districts and move white voters in. They say the shifts would give two incumbent Republicans, Reps. Rich Golick and Brian Strickland, an advantage in future elections.

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. It is day three of what is expected to be three days of hearings on Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the high court seat left vacant in February 2016, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Jon Ossoff is trying for an upset in a Republican-leaning district outside Atlanta.
Bill Barrow / Associated Press

The garden room at Rivermont Golf and Country Club brims with Republican donors and activists, but Michael Fitzgerald wants to talk about Democrats.

"Shock therapy," he calls it.

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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Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

The FBI and Justice Department have no information to substantiate President Donald Trump's claims that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him before the election, according to FBI Director James Comey.

Comey is testified at a highly politically charged congressional examining Russian meddling and possible connections between Moscow and Trump's campaign. He acknowledged that the FBI does not ordinarily discuss ongoing investigations, but said he'd been authorized to do so given the extreme public interest in this case.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, begins his three-day confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.

City Lights: Jazz Portraits; Irish Poetry; And More

Mar 17, 2017
COURTESY OF THEATRICAL OUTFIT

Friday on "City Lights with Lois Reitzes":

Trump Welcomes Merkel To White House For High Stakes Visit

Mar 17, 2017
Evan Vucci / Associated Press

It was all smiles as President Donald Trump welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House on Friday, their first personal encounter since he frequently criticized her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Georgia State Capitol gold dome.
Al Such / WABE

Private adoption agencies that receive state funding could refuse to provide services based on religious faith and other priorities under a last-minute change swiftly approved Thursday evening by Republicans in a Georgia Senate committee.

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J. Scott Applewhite / associated press file

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing next week to consider former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's nomination to be agriculture secretary.

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President Donald Trump announced in January that he would nominate Perdue. After a seven-week delay, Perdue submitted the necessary ethics paperwork last week and said he would step down from several companies bearing his name.

 

Georgia Senate Passes Family Sick Leave Legislation

Mar 17, 2017
Georgia sick leave laws, Georgia SB 201
WABE File

Soon, you might be able to use your sick leave days to take care of a family member.

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The Georgia Senate passed SB 201 that would require employers to let workers use their sick days to take care of a child, parent, or any dependent listed on tax returns.

State Rep. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) is sponsoring the bill in the House.

MARTA Chief Operating Officer Richard Krisak says $700 million in funding has been identified and approved for 250 new rail cars.
Alison Guillory / WABE

It's a long road to Congress finalizing the new federal budget. But under President Trump's proposed plan, Atlanta's transportation future could be at risk.

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When Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax last year to expand MARTA, the idea was that the money raised could be used to draw in matching federal dollars.

Trump's budget proposal says it will cut off future funding for the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts program.

Al Such / WABE

As U. S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins a trip to Asia this week, the emerging nuclear threat posed by North Korea will likely be a major subject of his talks in Japan, South Korea, and China. 

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However, Russia remains the U.S. adversary with the largest nuclear capability by far, and the chance of a conflict with Russia--especially one caused by lack of communication--continues to worry former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.  

J. Scott Applewhite / associated press file

Agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue says he will step down from several positions at companies bearing his name, restructure family trusts and create blind trusts to avoid a conflict of interest if he is confirmed.

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In a written agreement with a government ethics agency, the former Georgia governor said he will also step down from positions at the National Grain and Feed Association and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

 

Georgia Craft Beer Bill Passes House Vote, Heads To Senate

Mar 13, 2017
Fiona Hicks / Courtesy of Terrapin Brewery

Georgia’s breweries and distilleries got one step closer to being able to sell their products directly to customers as Senate Bill 85 passed through the House today.

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Right now, breweries have to go through alcohol wholesalers to sell their product to retailers. Senate Bill 85 would change that, letting distilleries sell up to 500 barrels per year and craft breweries to sell up to 3,000 barrels per year to their customers.

Former Senator Sam Nun of Georgia talks in his downtown Atlanta office.
Al Such / WABE

This week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson begins a trip to Asia, with scheduled visits to Japan, South Korea, and China.  Tensions have increased in the a region after North Korea recently conducted new tests of missiles, which North Korea says could carry nuclear warheads.

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Elly YU / WABE

Some of the state's top Republican leaders said they have concerns about the Republican health care bill moving through Congress, and in particular a funding plan for Medicaid.

Under the Congressional Republican plan, states after 2020 would get a capped amount of federal funding based on how much a state spends per person on Medicaid. The Medicaid program insures low-income people and those with disabilities.

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