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The Marietta Daily Journal – Rep Teasley trying to pass religious liberty bill again

MARIETTA — A controversial “religious liberty” bill in the Georgia General Assembly this year drew state lawmakers into a national conversation about discrimination.

Although the measure failed to pass, the Marietta lawmaker who proposed it said he plans to bring it back in the 2015 legislative session.

State Rep. Sam Teasley (R-Marietta) said his bill is a “modest, common sense measure” to ensure state and local governments cannot infringe upon a person’s right to religious expression.

“The primary function of the bill is to place a restriction on government’s ability to unnecessarily burden a person’s free exercise of religion,” Teasley explained.

Despite the First Amendment in the Constitution guaranteeing a citizen’s freedom of religion, Teasley said several U.S. Supreme Court decisions have resulted in a complex web of statutes and precedents on the issue.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Rep Teasley trying to pass religious liberty bill again.


Report analyzes effects, future of $400 million Race to the Top grant | Gwinnett Daily Post

Four years after Georgia received a $400 million federal grant to improve education, officials are evaluating its effect and where its momentum could take education.

While the Race to the Top grant had several delays, top education officials have said the state must maintain momentum in education reform that was sparked by the grant.

The Georgia Department of Education recently asked the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education to perform an independent review of its work, which resulted in a 50-page report.

“Georgia is moving forward, but we have to take advantage of this momentum if we hope to make lasting improvements and remain competitive in the global marketplace,” GPEE President Steve Dolinger said. “It is my belief because of this effort, Georgia is well positioned to undertake new and innovative ways to improve teaching and learning.”

Susan Andrews, Georgia Department of Education Deputy Superintendent for Race to the Top, said the seven agencies involved in the work did an incredible job, which the report noted.

via Report analyzes effects, future of $400 million Race to the Top grant | Gwinnett Daily Post.


Georgia GOP trio gains ‘a little humility’ on way out of Congress |

WASHINGTON — Nearly two years ago, three Georgia U.S. House members gambled on campaigns to move across the Capitol and capture the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.

This month, Republican Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston were relegated to small desks in a shared work space in the basement of a House office building, staging staff meetings in the cafeteria, living out their final days in Congress. Departing members were evicted in mid-November in a game of musical chairs with the newcomers for Capitol Hill office space.

“It’s pretty meager, a little less than a cubicle and one workstation among many,” Gingrey said. “It’s not a bad thing for a member of Congress to get a little humility now and then.”

All three were humbled in the U.S. Senate primary, as they fell to political newcomer David Perdue and his “outsider” image. Congress’ unpopularity and minefields within their decades-long records in office were among the reasons the trio fell.

So they had months to play out the string and wrap up their congressional careers. They continued to fight for their favorite causes, searched for jobs for themselves and their staffs, and packed up their offices.

via Georgia GOP trio gains ‘a little humility’ on way out of Congress |


Spending bill is ‘first volley’ in water fight between… |

WASHINGTON — Georgia farmers worried about the Environmental Protection Agency encroaching on their drainage ditches scored a partial victory in Congress’ $1 trillion spending package that was signed into law earlier this month.

But the EPA will move forward on a new regulation it says is crucial to limiting pollution in the nation’s waterways and will not overburden farmers, setting up a sure clash with the Republican majorities in the incoming Congress.

The dispute concerns a rule the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed in April to regulate tributaries to major waterways under the Clean Water Act — and a tributary does not necessarily have to flow year-round to qualify.

The farm lobby went on the attack against the “Waters of the USA” rule immediately, claiming that the EPA could take new jurisdiction over farmers’ property.

via Spending bill is ‘first volley’ in water fight between… |


VIDEO – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II: Christmas Message 2014

Your Christmas Desk

From Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

The Queen’s Christmas Message 2014  - Her Majesty Elizabeth II speaks to the Commonwealth


VIDEO – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Christmas Greeting

Your Christmas Desk

From Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting – 2014


 CDC tech may have been exposed to Ebola |

One technician conducting research on Ebola may have been exposed to the virus at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials said Wednesday.

The technician was potentially exposed Monday after a sample containing the virus was mistakenly put in a place where it was transferred to another CDC lab for processing, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

The technician currently has no symptoms and will be monitored for 21 days, which is the incubation period for the virus. About a dozen others who entered the high-security lab were also assessed for possible exposure, and officials told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the workers were not exposed.

via  CDC tech may have been exposed to Ebola |


Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete –

Today, nearly all of the Democrats holding federal or statewide office in the South will represent so-called “majority-minority” districts or areas with a large number of new residents from outside the region. In the states of the former Confederacy, Democrats will control Senate seats or governors’ mansions only in Virginia and Florida. Not coincidentally, those are the two Southern states where people born outside the state represent a majority of the population. These Democrats bear little resemblance to the Southern Democrats who won by attracting conservative white voters.

The dramatic decline of the Southern Democrats represents the culmination of a half-century of political realignment along racial and cultural lines. “Some of it is about Obama; most of it is about the longer-term realignment of white voter preferences,” said Guy Molyneux, a Democratic strategist. The shift has contributed to the polarization of national politics by replacing conservative Democrats, who often voted across party lines, with conservative Republicans who do not.

But white support for Republicans in the South might rival, or in some places even exceed, white support for Democrats during the Solid South. In the November election, Ms. Landrieu received only 18 percent of the white vote, according to the exit polls, a figure nearly identical to the 19 percent of the vote that Republicans averaged in the state’s presidential elections from 1880 through 1948. The exit polls showed that Mr. Obama won 14 percent of white voters in Louisiana in 2008.

“It’s a completely different party than it was 20 or 30 years ago,” said Merle Black, a professor of political science at Emory University. “When the Democratic Party and its candidates become more liberal on culture and religion, that’s not a party that’s advocating what these whites value or think.”

The demise of the Southern Democrats now puts the party at a distinct structural disadvantage in Congress, particularly in the House. The young, nonwhite and urban voters who have allowed Democrats to win in presidential elections are inefficiently concentrated in dense urban areas, where they are naturally drawn into overwhelmingly Democratic districts by congressional mapmakers. They are also concentrated in populous states, like California and New York, which get the same number of senators as Alabama or Mississippi.

via Demise of the Southern Democrat Is Now Nearly Complete –


Two counties swear in commissioners |

On Thursday, Forsyth County District 1 Commissioner R.J. “Pete” Amos took the oath of office for a second term, as did District 3 Commissioner Todd Levent. Both men were sworn in at the Forsyth County Administration Building. They were first elected to the group in 2010. Forsyth County Probate Judge Woody Jordan officiated.

In Cherokee County, Board of Commissioners Chairman L.B. “Buzz” Ahrens was sworn in for another term in office. Also, members K. Scott Gordon in District 4, and Steve West in District 1 took the oath of office, replacing retiring commissioners Jason Nelms and Harry Johnston respectively. Johnston was first elected to the commission in 2000 to fill an unexpired term. Nelms was elected in 2010. The ceremony took place Wednesday at the Cherokee County Administration Building.

via Two counties swear in commissioners |


By the Numbers: Half of the Senators Who Voted for Obamacare Will be Gone in 2015 – Bloomberg Politics

Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy’s double-digit ousting of Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu on Saturday was, in the words of the senator-elect, an “exclamation mark” on a 2014 election that saw the Republicans win control of the Senate. With Landrieu’s departure, only half of the Senators who voted to pass the Affordable Care Act will still be in office in 2015, when the new members are sworn in.

via By the Numbers: Half of the Senators Who Voted for Obamacare Will be Gone in 2015 – Bloomberg Politics.