Political news

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Twenty-two Democratic senators want President Barack Obama to halt deportation raids.

It's another break between the party and the administration over its handling of Central American immigrants.

The senators wrote in a letter Friday that the raids were targeting mothers and children who face threats of violence and death when they are returned to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They called the tactics "shocking and misguided" and rejected administration arguments that the highly publicized raids would deter additional immigrants from fleeing the region to the U.S.

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia said Thursday he won't support President Barack Obama's nominee for a federal judgeship in Georgia, essentially scuttling the choice.

Perdue said in a statement that the nomination is "unattainable" in the Senate because of concerns about nominee Dax Lopez having been a board member of a Hispanic advocacy group that lobbies against tougher immigration laws. Lopez worked with the group while he was a judge.

Stephen B. Morton / ASSOCIATED PRESS

After keeping their focus almost exclusively on New Hampshire and Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidates looked south in their recent debate in Charleston.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will compete in the South Carolina primary on February 27, but Georgia and 11 other states weigh in on March 1.

Ken Teegardin / Flickr.com/teegardin

A Republican state senator says he plans to introduce legislation this week to decrease the personal income tax rate in Georgia from 6 percent to a flat rate of 5.4 percent.

State Senator Judson Hill (R-Marietta) said the “Tax Relief Act of 2016” would also increase personal exemptions by $2,000 per person, while maintaining the current sales tax rate of 4 percent.

Wally Gobetz / flickr.com/wallyg

  Georgia lawmakers hold day six of the 40-day legislative session Wednesday.

To analyze their first full week of progress and predict what's to come, Amy Kiley spoke with Atlanta Journal-Constitution political blogger Jim Galloway.

They started with what lawmakers have on the menu this week: Gov. Nathan Deal's budget. For that, Galloway says he's watching "pay raises, pay raises, pay raises."

Seth Wenig / Associated Press

In Georgia, Donald Trump maintains a double-digit lead over the rest of the Republican presidential field, while Ted Cruz is picking up ground in second place. That's according to a new poll conducted by Opinion Savvy for Fox-5 and InsiderAdvantage.

Michell Eloy / WABE

A Georgia Democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban assault rifles and ideally ask people to surrender them.

Democratic Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver's bill, HB 731, would end the sale and possession of assault rifles and certain kinds of ammunition in the state. The proposal includes banning automatic rifles, though those are already heavily regulated by the federal government. The bill would also ban the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The passage of the state’s comprehensive transportation funding plan last year means Fulton County could receive more than a billion dollars in transportation funds. But first, the mayors of each of Fulton's cities have to decide how to spend the money and how much money, if any, to give to MARTA.

By a majority vote of eight to six, commissioners and mayors at the Fulton County Government Center voted on Wednesday to divide future transportation dollars according to population count.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia Democrats responded to Gov. Nathan Deal's State of the State address, saying the governor's plan doesn't do enough for the everyday people of Georgia. In its Democratic response, the party called on the state to expand Medicaid, fund mass transit and raise the minimum wage. 

Gov. Nathan Deal is pushing for dramatic changes to Georgia's system for funding education but is giving lawmakers more time to consider his proposals.

Deal told lawmakers during his State of the State address on Wednesday that he wants a full review this year of recommendations from a commission that reviewed all aspects of Georgia's education system last year.

The Republican is in the second year of his final four-year term.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Watch President Barack Obama's State of the Union address live on WABE.org Tuesday at 9 p.m. 

Embarking on his final year in office, President Barack Obama will use Tuesday's State of the Union address to present an optimistic vision built on economic progress under his watch while seeking to ease Americans' growing concern about national security and terrorism.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal wants lawmakers to expand a scholarship program available to technical college students studying to work in-demand jobs.

Deal spoke Tuesday at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual breakfast at the start of the legislative session. He says industrial maintenance programs prepare students for jobs that companies need to fill.

Anne G / flickr.com

The Georgia Department of Transportation says it is grateful to finally have a consistent source of funding it can count on. The tax money, approved by legislators last year with the passage of House Bill 170, is slated to pay for road maintenance projects that have been put on hold for years. 

With $1 billion a year in new transportation funding projected in the next few years, some state lawmakers are now looking to future transportation needs.

atlexplorer / flickr.com/atlexplorer

Georgia lawmakers head into the 2016 legislative session Monday with stronger growth in revenues than in recent years, which could mean a chance for the state to catch up from the recession, experts say. 

“I think things are, at long last, looking pretty good,” said Carolyn Bourdeaux, director of the Center for State and Local Finance at Georgia State University. “The state has been through a really long, tough period.”

Alison Guillory / WABE

 The Georgia General Assembly convened Monday to begin the second year of a two-year session.

Republicans hold big majorities in both the House and the Senate, but House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) says Democrats can still make a difference.  

In a wide-ranging conversation with Denis O'Hayer, Abrams talked about where and how Democrats can draw battle lines to get what they want -- and where they will have to simply resist new GOP legislation they might not like.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

Protecting his signature domestic achievement, President Barack Obama on Friday vetoed legislation to repeal his health care law, saying the measure "would reverse the significant progress we have made in improving health care in America."

Republican lawmakers have pushed many repeal measures since 2010, when Obama signed the health care program into law. This was the first of those bills to clear Congress and reach his desk.

Republicans have argued that the law doesn't work.

It's an election year, and they can't raise campaign money when they're in session, so many Georgia lawmakers want to get this year's work done in a hurry.  But when they convene on Monday, legislators will be facing several possible battles ─  including the governor's education reform plan; casino gambling; and renewed fights over medical marijuana and religious freedom bills.  

A pre-filed bill was revised to apply only to restrict Georgians with a petition or protective order against them from buying guns while they are filing for divorce.
Seth Wenig / Associated Press

A Cobb County lawmaker has modified his bill that would prevent Georgians going through a divorce from buying guns. 

Marietta state Senator Michael Rhett pre-filed a bill last week trying to stop anyone filing for divorce from buying a gun without their divorce judge's permission. 

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce's annual Eggs & Issues Breakfast, where state leaders and lawmakers outline priorities for the upcoming legislative session, is planned for next week in Atlanta.

Chamber of commerce officials say the event is scheduled for Jan. 12 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The chamber said in a statement that this year's event will feature U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; Gov. Nathan Deal; Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle; and House Speaker David Ralston.


Lobbyists and lawmakers walk through the Georgia Capitol with a just a few days remaining in the 2015 legislative session Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Atlanta. Several major items still are being negotiated by House and Senate members including a transpor
David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Legislature resumes next Monday, and many of the debates will be continuing chapters in battles that started in 2015.

Jim Tharpe, the editor of PolitiFact Georgia, discussed the Georgia General Assembly's 2016 session in a conversation with Denis O'Hayer on "Morning Edition." Tharpe checked the facts in what's been said so far on some of these Georgia issues and talked about the presidential candidate that PolitiFact rated the biggest fibber of the past year.

Legislation repealing President Barack Obama's health care law comes to the forefront when the House reconvenes this week, marking a sharply partisan start to a congressional year in which legislating may take a back seat to politics.

The bill undoing the president's prized overhaul of health care has been like a long-delayed New Year's resolution for Republicans. It will be the first order of business for the House in the new year.

Looking Forward To 2016: The Presidential Race Heats Up

Dec 31, 2015
Republican presidential candidates from left, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul take the stage for the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

What is coming up in 2016? We have been asking WABE’s newsroom staff what stories they anticipate will be big in the next few months.

Reporter Johnny Kauffman says he is watching the presidential race and the March 1 primary because there's still a big Republican field. Many Southern states will also be voting earlier.

Looking Forward To 2016: Legislative Changes

Dec 31, 2015
ken fager / flickr.com

As the new year approaches, we are asking the WABE news staff what topics they plan to watch in 2016.

Reporter Johnny Kauffman says he will be following discussions about bringing casino gambling to Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal has signaled he does not support the idea, but some state legislators are all for it.

With three seats open on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a chance to flip control of the judicial branch, a wave of campaign cash, independent expenditures and negative TV ads flooded the state in the weeks before the November election.

Six candidates combined for $12.2 million in contributions, with two independent groups spending $3.5 million. The record sum for a state judicial election serves as a hint of what lies ahead when voters in two dozen states will cast ballots for state supreme court justices in 2016.

Proposed property tax rates for Dekalb County residents who live in city limits and those who don't live inside a city.
DeKalb County

Residents of DeKalb County may pay lower property tax rates next year if they live in one of the county's 11 cities. 

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said it will soon be 12 cities when DeKalb County's newest city, Tucker, forms its own government.

"This is a phenomenon with cityhood that's been going on now four years," Brennan said. "In order to equalize the different tax funds and with each new city, that changes the formula, you'll see an increase one year and a decrease the second year."

The Capitol Dome is visible at sunrise in Washington, Saturday.
Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Five days after Paul Ryan was sworn in as House speaker, the White House promised to invite him to meet President Barack Obama for a perfunctory but traditional photo opportunity. It would be a chance for the leaders to shake hands for the cameras and exchange pledges to work together.

Ryan never got that invitation.

Beatrice Moritz for Hillary for America / flickr.com/hillaryclinton

Hillary Clinton is announcing a $2 billion annual effort to cure Alzheimer's disease by 2025.

The Democratic presidential front-runner says her plan will "prevent, effectively treat and make a cure possible" for Alzheimer's.

She says her plan would guarantee consistent funding for treatment so researchers can work toward advancing treatment. Clinton will pay for her plan by closing tax loopholes, though her campaign did not specific which ones.

Thomas Hawk / flickr.com/

Senators on a study committee will meet one last time Tuesday morning to discuss how to sustain funding for the state's merit-based HOPE scholarship program. 

HOPE helps high-achieving high school students in Georgia attend college for free or at a low cost. 

The scholarship is currently funded by the state lottery, but lawmakers say the lottery is not providing enough money.

So, lawmakers have been looking at alternative sources of funding such as legalizing horse race betting in the state or collecting taxes from casino gambling.

David Goldman / Associated Press

One of Gov. Nathan Deal's floor leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives is stepping away from that job.

State Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) accepted the post just a few months ago. But Peake said he and Deal disagree on what has come to be known as Peake's signature issue.

The morning sun illuminates the Capitol in Washington as Congress returns from a district work week, Monday, March 24, 2014.
J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

The Senate has given sweeping approval to a year-end budget package that boosts federal agency spending and awards tax cuts to both families and an array of business interests.

The 65-33 vote sent President Barack Obama a package combining $1.14 trillion in new spending in 2016 and $680 billion in tax cuts over the coming decade, a peaceful end to a yearlong struggle over the budget, taxes and Republican efforts to derail his regulatory agenda.