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Is legislative redistricting "transparent?"

Is legislative redistricting "transparent?"

ATLANTA -- It may be to the state Capitol what Area 51 is to the Nevada desert -- a place shrouded in mystery, with red letters warning against entry, and black curtains blocking the glass.

It's next to the reapportionment committee office. It's the room where the maps are made.

"They've got computers in there, a lot of equipment and stuff," said Rep. Roger Lane, chairman of the House Reapportionment Committee. Lane couldn't explain why the windows were blacked out, though. "I didn't do it. I don't know."

The maps are the legislative boundaries, redrawn during a special session of the legislature based on 2010 census data. The process, behind the glass, is touted by Republicans as "transparent."

"It's been the most transparency I've seen in the system in twenty years," said Sen. Don Balfour, Republican chairman of the Rules Committee.

Gingrey opposes Boehner's debt reduction plan

Gingrey opposes Boehner's debt reduction plan

WASHINGTON -- A House vote on Speaker John Boehner's debt reduction plan is expected Thursday, but not all Republicans are on board.

RELATED: How the debt ceiling crisis could hit consumers

MORE: Tell your lawmakers how you feel 

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-11th District) says Congress needs to get the job done, but it needs to be done the right way.  

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

Cagle raises $18K in off-election year

ATLANTA -- Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has more than $208,000 in the bank for a possible re-election bid in 2014.

A report Cagle filed with state officials Friday showed the Gainesville Republican has raised a little more than $18,000 in the first six months of 2011, a non-election year when fundraising is typically sluggish.

He already had $344,262 left over from last year's successful bid for a second term as the state's No. 2.

Finance reports detailing campaign contributions and expenditures were due with the state ethics commission by Friday night.

Cagle trailed at least one other top Republican in the Senate, where he presides. House Rules Committee Chairman Don Balfour of Snellville raked in $137,000 for the first six months of the year. He has more than $174,000 in the bank.

(The Associated Press)

Kenerly indictment overturned by Court of Appeals

Kenerly indictment overturned by Court of Appeals

ATLANTA -- (AP) - The Georgia Court of Appeals has overturned the indictment of former Gwinnett County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly.

The court ruled that a special purpose grand jury that indicted Kenerly was not legally authorized to do so.

The indictment accused him of a bribery count and two counts of failing to disclose a financial interest. Grand jurors had said he failed to disclose a partnership with a developer who successfully sought county rezoning of property.

District Attorney Danny Porter has said that if the indictment was reversed, he'd present the evidence to another grand jury and seek to re-indict Kenerly.

Kenerly's attorney Pat McDonough said his client is innocent. McDonough said he hopes Thursday's decision ends the case, but he's prepared to continue defending him if necessary and that Kenerly will ultimately be vindicated.

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

Georgia appeals ruling on immigration law

ATLANTA -- A spokeswoman for the state attorney general says the state has filed a notice of appeal of a federal judge's ruling that blocked parts of the state's law cracking down on illegal immigration from taking effect.

Spokeswoman Lauren Kane says the notice was filed Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, but has not yet been filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The office will file court papers outlining the state's objections to last week's ruling.

The decision from federal Judge Thomas Thrash granted a request filed by civil liberties groups to block two sections of the law from taking effect until a lawsuit challenging the law's constitutionality has been resolved.

Other parts of the law, passed by the Georgia Legislature this year, took effect Friday.

Undocumented youth will risk arrest and rally at the Capitol in response to the Immigration Bill

Undocumented youth will risk arrest and rally at the Capitol in response to the Immigration Bill

Atlanta --  (submitted by Georgina Perez)  Today, June 28th, at 2:00pm, in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of undocumented people in their communities, six undocumented youth will risk arrest and even deportation coming out at the Georgia State Capitol. The undocumented youth will be joined by allies in demanding a complete halt to HB87 and similar local policies which continue to create fear within the immigrant communities.
 
Jessica Vasquez, 18 year old soon to be Pebblebrook high school student doesn’t believe anything has changed with the Judge’s ruling in the HB87 lawsuit: “Parts of HB87 may have been put on hold however that does not mean that local policies have been put on hold.  Every day I see people I know being stopped at checkpoints and facing deportation.

Goodwill receives $5.7 million grant to help those in need

Goodwill receives $5.7 million grant to help those in need

ATLANTA -- Good news is coming for many Georgians who are struggling to find jobs.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recently announced that Goodwill of North Georgia will receive $5,724,222 to help people with barriers to employment, namely ex-offenders and low-income non-custodial parents, obtain the skills they need to find work.

The funds will go toward an Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration program, which offers temporary paid work experiences to more than 3,500 people nationwide. The program improves participants' employability, earnings and opportunities for advancement, not to mention their self-sufficiency and long-term success in the workforce.

"This grant provides needed support to individuals who face significant obstacles to employment," Solis said.