Archive for April, 2011

Nathan Deal: Tax reform ‘probably’ back on the table in August

On Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta,” Gov. Nathan Deal this morning threw out a big hint that tax reform will indeed return as a topic when state lawmakers re-assemble in August for a special session to address redistricting:

Said Deal:

”As long as we could reduce the scope of what we’re talking about, so that we don’t get into a prolonged session this summer, I would certainly entertain that idea. And I think that’s probably where we are. We got very close – the General Assembly did – to being able to finalize a package.”

The final decision will be up to the governor. In a special session, he formally decides the agenda when he summons lawmakers to Atlanta.

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Austell, adds this note that helps explain Deal’s willingness to add tax reform to a summer agenda:

One of the primary reasons is the increased senior exemption that is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2012. Currently the authors of the tax bill want to freeze at $35,000 …

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Your morning jolt: Hearing to examine rider safety on MARTA

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, chairman of the Legislature’s MARTA oversight committee, will hold a hearing next week on rider safety within the transit system.

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, chairman of MARTOC. AJC file

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, chairman of MARTOC. AJC file

The MARTOC chairman announced the hearings only days after a late-night gang attack of two Delta flight attendants in a train car on their way to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Jacobs told Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1 FM):

”Anecdotally, it wasn’t too, too long ago that you could ride a MARTA train and you were almost certain to see an officer walking back and forth, from the front of the train to the back, and then back again. These days, you’re much less likely to see officers on trains – although to be sure they can be found around the MARTA system.”

Mark your calendars for 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 3, in Room 406 of the CLOB.

Jacobs tantalized O’Hayer — and later, the Insider — with a possible deal that might be struck. The …

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Surprise! A 3-cent gasoline tax to hit May 1

The Savannah Morning News has this gem about a hidden, 3-cent increase in the gasoline tax that will kick in on May 1:

The tax in Georgia is a flat 7.5-cents per gallon, plus an amount based on price. The part based on price is set on Jan. 1 and July 1 and goes up between those dates when the price of gas rises by more than 25 percent.

The price of gas has risen by more than 25 percent lately.
The rate of 10.1 cents per gallon that was set on Jan. 1 will go up to 12.9 cents per gallon on May 1, an increase of 2.8 cents, said Ken Heaghney, Georgia’s fiscal economist.

“It’s tied to the sales price,” said Brian Robinson, the governor’s spokesman. “It’s an automatic thing. The state didn’t vote to raise taxes.”

When gasoline prices were climbing in the summer of 2008, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue issued an executive order freezing the tax rate, saying he couldn’t justify raising taxes on gas when so many families were struggling.

Can customers expect a repeat from …

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Hank Huckaby to be next university chancellor

The state Board of Regents on Friday will tap state Rep. Hank Huckaby, a Zell Miller protégé and the state’s former chief budget writer, as the next chancellor of the University System, we’re told.

State Rep. Hank Huckaby, R-Watkinsville

State Rep. Hank Huckaby, R-Watkinsville

Tim Bryant over at WGAU (1340AM) in Athens has the same info, and more:

The Oconee County Republican and former Vice-President for Finance and Administration at the University of Georgia is the state Board of Regents choice to replace departing Chancellor Erroll Davis, who is retiring after five years as head of the University System of Georgia. Sources say the Regents vote came last night. A Regents spokesman declined to confirm the Huckaby appointment, but did say that no Chancellor can, under state law, be officially named until two weeks after finalists are named. However, WGAU News has learned that Huckaby will be named as the lone finalist for the job. That announcement is expected Friday.

In case you still have any doubt, the …

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Your morning jolt: An ‘intrigued’ Ralph Reed says he has encouraged Donald Trump

His close friend Karl Rove thinks Donald Trump’s presidential ambition is one big joke, but Ralph Reed isn’t so sure.

Earlier this week, Reed’s name surfaced as someone Trump had sounded out to run his campaign – an idea that the former head of the Christian Coalition slapped down.

Ralph Reed, founder of Faith and Freedom Coalition, at a 2010 rall in Atlanta. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Ralph Reed, founder of Faith and Freedom Coalition, at a 2010 rall in Atlanta. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

But in an NPR interview with Neal Conan and Ken Rudin on Wednesday, posted here, Reed declared himself “intrigued” by a Trump candidacy, and said he has encouraged The Donald to take a close look at the race.

The former chairman of the state GOP was first asked if the “birther” phenomenon was the fuel behind Trump’s sudden performance in national polls:

Reed: “I don’t know that I would reduce his poll performance to just one issue. After all, Donald Trump is somebody who’s been kind of a larger-than-life figure on the American stage for more than a quarter …

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Brian Kemp and a 2012 game of presidential primary poker

Brian Kemp is about to become a very, very popular fellow.

Just before state lawmakers pointed their brake lights toward Atlanta last week, they passed a measure to give Georgia’s secretary of state the power to set the most important date in Republican politics next year.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp . Bita Honarvar bhonarvar@ajc.com

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp . Bita Honarvar bhonarvar@ajc.com

All right, maybe the second most important date.

The 47-year-old Kemp was given the authority to choose any Tuesday between Jan. 31 and June 12, 2012, for Georgia’s presidential primary.

Kemp could decide if Georgia will join the Florida rebellion, and move its primary near the front of the line.

Or the GOP secretary of state could position Georgia for a safe April vote that might not matter so much in the national scheme — but would guarantee that the state will seat a full slate of happy delegates when the GOP faithful gather in Tampa.

Or Kemp could gamble. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey last week raised the possibility of …

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Gay rights group targets King & Spalding in Atlanta

Last year, when Attorney General Thurbert Baker declined to join a federal lawsuit challenging President Barack Obama’s health care reform on behalf of Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue assigned the matter to outside counsel.

In Washington, House Republicans have done something of the same sort. The Obama administration last month announced it would no longer go to bat in court for the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only a union between a man and woman.

So at $520 an hour, with the money coming out of their own taxpayer-fueled budget, House Republicans have hired Paul Clement of King & Spalding to defend the act. Paul Clement is a former U.S. solicitor general for President George W. Bush.

For a time, Clement was the lead counsel hired by Gov. Sonny Perdue to appeal a federal court ruling challenging Georgia’s access to the water in Lake Lanier for drinking purposes.

The law firm of King & Spalding has its origins in Atlanta, in the early 20th century. The …

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Nathan Deal signs bill that allows replacement of Atlanta school board

Gov. Nathan Deal has signed SB 79, which gives the governor the power to replace the Atlanta Board of Education, if the public school system loses its accreditation this summer.

But in a formal statement, Deal said removal of elected officials would be a “last resort:”

“It is my hope that the district will take the appropriate steps to move forward in order to avoid a sad and embarrassing situation. We all benefit if this is resolved locally by elected officials in Atlanta.

“But we have seen the horrific consequences of schools that lose their accreditation. I believe in the sanctity of the ballot and in the power of the people to elect their leaders. For me, removing elected officials would be a last resort. But with the future of Atlanta’s students hanging in the balance, I believe it is better to be prepared with more options on the table than with less.

“Signing this bill into law is not a time for celebrating; it is a time for Atlantans to come together to …

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Michele Bachmann trumps The Donald, declares birther dispute ‘settled’

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” this morning, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman, tea partyist and possible GOP presidential rival to Donald Trump, was shown a certified copy of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate. She declared the matter “settled:”

The transcript at the 4:10″ mark:

George Stephanopoulos: Well, I have the president’s certificate right here. It’s certified, it’s got a certification number. It’s got the registrar of the state signed. It’s got a seal on it. And it says “this copy serves as prima facie evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding.”

Bachmann: Well, then that should settle it.

Stephanopoulos: So it’s over?

Bachmann: That’s what should settle it. I take the president at his word and I think– again I would have no problem and apparently the president wouldn’t, either. Introduce that, we’re done. Move on.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on …

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Your morning jolt: John Lewis says Georgia’s illegal immigration measure resembles Jim Crow

In the chapel of the University of Georgia last night, U.S. Rep. John Lewis ripped into Georgia’s new illegal immigration measure, declaring that the act passed by the Legislature last week resembles the South’s old Jim Crow laws and South Africa’s apartheid statutes.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. speaks during the 11th annual Mary Frances Early Lecture at the University of Georgia on Tuesday. AP/Athens Banner-Herald, David Manning

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. speaks during the 11th annual Mary Frances Early Lecture at the University of Georgia on Tuesday. AP/Athens Banner-Herald, David Manning

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

Georgia’s new law authorizes state and local police to arrest illegal immigrants and sets penalties of up to a $250,000 fine and 15 years in prison for anyone who uses a fake ID to get a job.

“We can be arrested and taken to jail until we prove who we are,” said Lewis, one of the leaders of America’s civil rights struggles 50 years ago and now in his 25th year in the House of Representatives. “This is a recipe for discrimination. We’ve come too far to return to the dark past.”

Before its passage, state lawmakers …

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