Political Insider blog 

AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns

EPD celebrates Earth Day – by easing restrictions on development on Georgia coast

  • 2:51 pm Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 by Jim Galloway

The state Environmental Protection Division has a unique way of celebrating Earth Day.

The department announced a revision of regulations that environmentalists say will greatly increase development along the Georgia coastline.

This explanatory note comes from Neil Herring of the Sierra Club:

Under the [old] policy, which was promulgated by the biologist EPD Director Dr. Carol Couch, a line was drawn where the salt marsh reaches the “hill,” the more or less dry ground, determined by the presence of plants that will grow at that point but not in the marsh.

From that line, to another line, 25 feet inland from the first appearance [More]

Nathan Deal to sign sweeping gun bill next week

  • 4:05 pm Friday, April 18th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal plans to sign legislation next week that would vastly expand where Georgians can legally carry firearms.

House Bill 60, which passed in the final hours of this year’s legislative session, would expand where Georgians may legally carry firearms, including schools, bars, churches and government buildings. A recent analysis also said it could let felons use the state’s “stand your ground” rules to claim self-defense if they feel threatened.

Gun rights groups cheered the news that Deal would sign the measure, which critics have dubbed the “guns everywhere” bill, on Wednesday at a north Georgia event. GeorgiaCarry.org, which [More]

Ethics verdict poses a threat to GOP grip on Georgia

  • 9:00 am Saturday, April 12th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

In the 11 days after the adjournment of the Legislature on March 20, Democrat Jason Carter out-raised Gov. Nathan Deal by a ratio of five to one.

The Republican incumbent pulled in $84,000 before the deadline for the latest contribution reporting period. His upstart challenger, a sitting state senator, raised $416,000.

The Deal campaign accused Carter of cheating – by advertising a March 23 fundraiser in New York, which featured his famous grandfather, before lawmakers abandoned Atlanta. State law forbids legislators and all other elected state officials from soliciting campaign contributions while the Legislature is in session.

But here’s the unfortunate reality of [More]

Ethics agency head critiques Nathan Deal’s overhaul plan

  • 3:06 pm Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

The head of Georgia’s embattled ethics commission has a word of caution for Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to more than double the size of the board.

Holly LaBerge said Wednesday she hasn’t seen Deal’s full proposal but she has “concerns about the size of the board being more people than the agency employs as full-time employees.”

Deal unveiled a plan this week to replace the five-person commission with 12 members appointed by the judicial, executive and legislative branches. The members would not be allowed to hear any cases involving their branch of government to reduce conflicts of interest. He also pledged [More]

Michelle Nunn endorses Keystone pipeline construction

  • 10:14 am Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

 Michelle Nunn told volunteers for her U.S. Senate campaign gathered in Marietta on Monday that she would support completion of the fourth phase of the Keystone XL pipeline in the name of economic development and national security.

“I have a lot of friends who have different perspectives on Keystone,” Nunn said. “We need to continue to focus on green energy and finding sustainable sources of energy, but I do believe we should move forward with Keystone.”

The candidate also said she wanted to see a third, cheaper tier of health insurance coverage offered through the Affordable Care Act. “Obviously, there are trade-offs [More]

Harsh words from Nathan Deal’s campaign at fundraising deadline

  • 6:03 pm Monday, April 7th, 2014 by Greg Bluestein

Gov. Nathan Deal’s camp reported Monday raising $84,000 for a total of roughly $3.9 million in campaign cash in the 11 days after the session ended. But what came next was more interesting.

Deal’s campaign figures comes a day after Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter released his totals for the same time period: A $416,000 haul. That gave Carter’s camp a roughly 5-to-1 fundraising edge in the short period after the session’s end. Both Deal and Carter are prohibited by state law from raising campaign cash during the legislative session, which stretched from January to March 20.

Deal campaign spokeswoman Jen [More]

Legislative tip sheet: More than 100 bills on two calendars

  • 7:12 am Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

Tuesday marks the penultimate day of the 2014 Georgia General Assembly, and it’s expected to be a doozy. The Senate has more than 80 bills on its debate calendar, and the House will start with 30 and will probably add more as the day goes on.

House and Senate negotiators late Monday reached a compromise on the $20.8 billion state spending plan that takes effect July 1. If the full House and Senate agree today, lawmakers could conceivably go home for the year — the state budget is the only thing they are required to do.

Beyond that, top bets on the [More]

Bill Heath on MLK statue: ‘I hope taxpayers haven’t been duped’

  • 3:51 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

On Wednesday, state Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, cast the only opposing vote to HB 1080, a measure to allow the erection of a monument to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the grounds of the state Capitol.

Heath doesn’t often gab with members of the press, but he has put out this statement explaining his vote:

“I am not convinced by the language of the bill that the erection of the statue will never cost the taxpayers. Though the bill specifically states private funds must be used in order to erect the statue, it does not expressly exclude …the use [More]

In the midst of ‘Franken-bill’ fight, Senate tables all House measures

  • 2:41 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

The House and Senate have spent the better part of today creating “Franken-bills” by patching one bill onto another – as a way of forcing the other chamber to take up their favorites.

Tempers are apparently at a breaking point, according to my AJC colleague Kristina Torres.

Just before the Senate tabled all House bills on its calendar, Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, who controls traffic on the chamber floor, had this to say:

“Work is never enough. We always do what we’re supposed to do. We get the job done. But good deeds never go unpunished. Well, I had offered to be [More]

Your copy of the new Lakeside-Tucker map

  • 1:15 pm Thursday, March 13th, 2014 by Jim Galloway

State Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, has done everyone in DeKalb County a favor by pushing out the above new map negotiated between supporters of the proposed cities of Lakeside and Tucker. Click on the image to enlarge.

The cityhood bills have been stopped, given that the above chartage was a surprise to lawmakers on Wednesday. But dead legislation has a history of Lazarus-like revivals – so pay attention.

Writes Holcomb:

Some constituents have asked whether Livsey Elementary is in the proposed city of Lakeside or Tucker.  Based on our reading of the map, the school would be in the proposed city of [More]