Politics

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Churchgoers and pastors gather outside the State Capitol.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

Nearly a thousand pastors and churchgoers rallied outside the Georgia State Capitol Friday despite rainy weather.

Just a few weeks after Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of a controversial religious exemptions bill, religious leaders from around the state appeared to be digging political trenches for a drawn-out battle over whether lawmakers should pass new legal protections for people opposed to same-sex marriage.

A Denver Bronco holds the Lombardi Trophy aloft during a victory rally to celebrate the Bronco's win over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, in Denver, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016.
Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

If Atlanta is chosen to host a Super Bowl, fans buying tickets won't pay state sales tax under new law.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed the much expected measure on Thursday. He and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have been among the proposal's biggest supporters as the city bids for either the 2019 or 2020 game.

The league named Atlanta among four finalists for either game, facing Miami or Tampa in Florida and New Orleans.

The NFL says the exemption is required. Opposing legislators criticized the change as a giveaway to the league.

DeKalb County is set to hold the first ethics board meeting Thursday since it hired a chief ethics officer.

Stacey Kalberman, who was hired earlier this year, said her priority will be on educating county employees and leaders on ethics issues.

“I think that if you educate people on what their responsibilities are, then there is much less of a chance that somebody will do something in violation of the code. And I think that will eventually change our image,” Kalberman said.

Rica Madrid poses for a photograph as she prepares to roll a joint in her home on the first day of legal possession of marijuana for recreational purposes,
Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Gov. Nathan Deal says it is not up to the state legislature to take action on a plan in Clarkston to decriminalize marijuana.

The small DeKalb County city, led by its Democratic Mayor Ted Terry, is working on reducing the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana there.

The move has led to legal questions over the city’s ability to go against state law, which calls for up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana.

Jae C. Hong / Associated Press

A senior strategist for Democrat Bernie Sanders says the campaign will "take a step back and then decide publicly what his intentions are."

But strategist Tad Devine also says Sanders is still making a contribution by "bringing independents and young people into the process."

With her win in the New York primary, Hillary Clinton picked up at least 135 of the 247 Democratic delegates at stake. Sanders gained at least 104.

Clinton now leads the delegate count 1,930 to 1,189, including super delegates.

Tracy Robillard / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah, flickr.com/savannahcorps

Gov. Nathan Deal called out lawmakers Wednesday who might try to block his legislative agenda next year after his veto of a controversial religious exemptions bill.

“For those who hold grudges, let me ask ‘em this: instead of having rhetoric, why don't we have examples?” he said. “Nobody has ever, yet, provided me with one clear example of anything that has occurred in the state of Georgia that the RFRA bill [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] would have prevented.”

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

Gov. Nathan Deal is remaining quiet about whether he'll sign a controversial "campus carry" bill and other legislation still sitting on his desk.

Speaking at an unrelated bill signing on Tuesday, Deal said he won't comment on "campus carry" or any other bill still awaiting his signature until he makes his decision public.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” Deal told reporters. “I'm not going to talk about any of those [bills]. They've already been put into the format the General Assembly thought was appropriate, and I'm reviewing that now.”

Republicans in Georgia's sixth congressional district vote for who to send to the national convention in Cleveland this July.
Johnny Kauffman / WABE

Delegates are more important than votes when it comes to Georgia's role in the Republican presidential race. That was clear this past weekend, as members of Georgia's Republican Party gathered in each of the state's 14 congressional districts to pick the 42 delegates who will vote at the national convention in Ohio this summer.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich acknowledges that running third among the three remaining White House hopefuls is a difficult position to be in.

Yet he says in a television appearance that he thinks "part of it is because I wasn't very well known" earlier in the 2016 primary season.

Kasich tells "Late Night with Seth Myers" he still believes he has a chance to be the GOP standard-bearer and says he thinks the race for the nomination will be settled on the convention floor in Cleveland in July.

Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

Donald Trump scored a decisive victory in Georgia's March primary, taking more than half of the state's 76 Republican delegates as part of a dominant showing throughout the South.

But the state party only binds delegates to support Trump for one ballot at this summer's GOP national convention. That means any delegate may shift his or her support to any other GOP contender who might emerge if Trump can't lock up the nomination before a second round of voting.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Georgia voters broke a record in March with more than 276,704 residents participating in the presidential primary. Primaries don't usually draw a big turnout, but their results can carry lot of weight.

The general nonpartisan primary and special election ballot will be long, regardless of where any Georgian lives. On May 24, some city and county seats are up for grabs as well as congressional posts and every seat in the state legislature.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Nearly 2 in 3 Americans back Democrats' demands that the Republican-run Senate hold hearings and a vote on President Barack Obama's pick for the Supreme Court. But an Associated Press-GfK poll also suggests that GOP defiance against considering the nominee may not hurt the party much because to many people, the election-year fight is simply not a big deal.

Just 1 in 5 in the survey released Wednesday said they've been following the battle over Obama's nomination of federal judge Merrick Garland extremely or very closely.

Bernie Sanders speaking at Morehouse during the Feel the Bern rally.
Al Such / WABE

Most American voters say "meh" — at best — about the 2016 field of presidential candidates in both parties.

That's according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, which shows that a majority of Americans believe none of the remaining candidates for president represents their opinions at least somewhat well.

Darron Cummings / Associated Press

More businesses could be looking to move to Georgia after North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed controversial religious exemptions laws.

A list of major corporations, as well as activists, say the new laws are discriminatory against LGBT people.

After businesses spoke out against a similar measure in Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it. That helped Georgia's business friendly image, according to John Boyd, principal of the Boyd Company, which helps corporations decide where to locate.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Donald Trump's Republican presidential campaign has hit some speed bumps lately – most recently in Colorado, where rival Ted Cruz was able to capture all of the state's delegates to this summer's Republican National Convention.

  It's the latest evidence that candidates don't just need to get out their voters; once the voting is over, they need to win the battles for convention delegates. That means knowing the sometimes head-spinning state party rules for the delegate selection process.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Monday a measure to delay open records requests by journalists and the public from athletic departments of public colleges and universities by 90 days. Those would include requests for recruiting information, or details about department spending. 

Rules for other state agencies in Georgia say responses must come within 3 days.  

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

In a stark warning for Donald Trump as he eyes a possible general election showdown with Hillary Clinton, Americans trust the Democratic front-runner more than the Republican businessman to handle a wide range of issues — from immigration to health care to nominating Supreme Court justices.

Even when asked which of the two candidates would be best at "making America great" — the central promise of Trump's campaign — Americans are slightly more likely to side with Clinton, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Matt Rourke / Associated Press

In any other election year, more than half the country holding an unfavorable impression of a candidate for president would be cause for alarm.

This is not a normal year.

Fifty-five percent of Americans say they have a negative opinion of Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton in the latest AP-GfK poll. But that's not nearly as bad as how they view the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump. His unfavorable rating stands at an unprecedented 69 percent.

A former top staff member to former U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia resigned Thursday following an eight count indictment he allegedly used congressional funds to pay a campaign consultant $44,000 for Broun’s unsuccessful 2014 run for Senate.

David G. Bowser was working in the office of U.S Rep. Mimi Walters of California, before he resigned Wednesday.  

Broun is seeking Georgia's 9th Congressional District seat this election year. 

Attorney General Sam Olens speaks during a news conference announcing a new campaign targeting sex trafficking, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia’s Republican Attorney General Sam Olens says he will not lobby Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a bill that would allow university and college athletic departments to delay their response to open records requests by 90 days. They are currently required by law to respond in just three days.  

“I play a bigger role in potential bills that I think strongly need to be vetoed, and I try to use that political capital for very significant issues for our state,” Olens told the Macon Telegraph Wednesday.

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

For Americans of nearly every race, gender, political persuasion and location, disdain for Donald Trump runs deep, saddling the Republican front-runner with unprecedented unpopularity as he tries to overcome recent campaign setbacks.

Silver Comet Terminal Partners, which is working to bring commercial passenger service to Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, has filed a federal complaint against Paulding County.
Steve Reeves Photography / © Rion Rizzo / Creative Sources Photography, Inc.

A company working to bring commercial passenger service to Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport has filed a federal complaint against the Paulding County government.

The company, Silver Comet Terminal Partners, a subsidiary of New York-based Propeller Airports LLC, said it's just trying to figure out who's in charge.

This new lawsuit is just the latest in a debate over commercialization of the airport.

State Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, speaks on a bill he plans to introduce that provides religious exemptions in the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

  

The 2015-16 Georgia Legislature adjourned the week before, but the state Capitol was anything but quiet during the last week of March.  

Casey Cagle at the Georgia Senate.
Al Such / WABE

The Republican leaders of the Georgia House and Senate said Thursday the Legislature would not reconvene to overrule Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto of House Bill 757, which would have allowed religious nonprofits the ability to deny services to same-sex couples.

Transportation funding totaling $600 million could be coming to Fulton County under a plan approved Thursday by commissioners and county mayors representing the 13 cities outside Atlanta. The plan would split the money amongst those cities and unincorporated parts of Fulton County based on population, and if a mayor doesn’t approve the final project list their city would still receive funding.

The project lists for the cities, and unincorporated Fulton County, should be made public in coming weeks. MARTA is unlikely to appear on those lists.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal waits to deliver his State of the State address on the House floor at the Capitol Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Two Republican governors. Two proposals at the heart of LGBT rights. One rejection. One new law.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he has prevented discrimination and protected the economy by vetoing a measure that would have allowed certain individuals, businesses and faith organizations to deny services to others based on "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Lisa Hagen / WABE

Dozens of supporters of the vetoed Free Exercise Protection Act still seemed to be in shock Tuesday morning at the state Capitol.

Tanya Ditty, the state director of Concerned Women for America kicked off the program of short speeches saying the decision showed Gov. Nathan Deal is out of touch with Georgians.

“This is why people are angry with the politicians of our nation,” said Ditty. “They are elected to represent the will of the people. They are not elected to represent Hollywood values nor Wall Street values.”

David Goldman / Associated Press

Filmmakers who come to Georgia can get tax credits for up to 30 percent of their production costs. In addition to that, the state Legislature has passed a bill that would waive sales taxes on Superbowl tickets should the game come to Georgia. But one grassroots group strongly opposes both incentives.

Americans for Prosperity is a politically conservative organization tied to the Koch brothers. It generally favors tax credits, but Georgia director Michael Harden says not in these cases.

Georgia Capitol at Night
Al Such / WABE

The debate in Georgia over religious freedom has new fuel, after Gov. Nathan Deal went against the votes of the majority of Republican lawmakers in the state and said he would veto a controversial bill that would have allowed faith-based nonprofits, because of their beliefs, to deny services to same-sex couples.

In this May 9, 2015 file photo, pipes for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline are stacked at a staging area in Worthing, S.D.
Nati Harnik, File / Associated Press

Environmental issues weren’t the biggest issues in Georgia's 2016 legislative session, but a number of bills relating to the environment came up this year.

Overall this legislative session, like last year's, “could've been worse,” longtime Georgia environmental lobbyist Neill Herring said. 

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