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State House kills homestead exemption hike

ATLANTA - The House has failed to adopt a measure that would have doubled the homestead exemption from $2,000 to $4,000.

The proposal, which has already passed the Senate, did not reach the two-thirds majority of the vote needed to pass the House. Supporters quickly moved to reconsider the plan, meaning it could come to another vote Thursday.

March 05, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Former judge pleads to fraud charge

SAVANNAH - A former Court judge pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to a charge that he illegally accepted a $42,500-a-year political appointment to settle unpaid attorneys fees owed to him by the Superior Court judge who gave him the job.

Homerville attorney Berrien Sutton, who resigned as a Clinch County judge last year, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud before U.S. District Judge Hugh Lawson in Macon.

March 05, 2009 | By Russ Bynum Associated Press writer | State, National


Perdue slashes budget yet again

ATLANTA - Gov. Sonny Perdue said Tuesday he will draw on more than $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars to help the state dig out of a deepening deficit for the coming fiscal year.

Beset by plummeting tax collections, Perdue ordered deep new cuts Tuesday to state spending. But he allowed that the financial picture would have been far worse without the federal dollars coming from Washington.

March 04, 2009 | By Shannon McCaffrey Associated Press writer | State, National


Much of Georgia gets rare snow day

ATLANTA - Students and teachers across central Georgia welcomed a snow day Monday after winter weather blanketed the state on the first day of March.

The rare March snowstorm closed schools, caused traffic accidents, canceled church services and knocked out electricity to thousands of homes as it moved across Georgia on Sunday. Authorities reported no fatalities or serious injuries from the ice and snow, which sent trees crashing across roadways and onto power lines.

March 02, 2009 | By Dorie Turner Associated Press writer | State, National


DoT board fires commissioner

ATLANTA - The Georgia Transportation Board voted 9-3 Thursday to fire Commissioner Gena Evans, citing a need for a change at the department troubled by criticism of its leadership and prompting a rebuke from Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The board named department chief engineer Gerald Ross interim commissioner and said it will soon begin a national search for a replacement.

February 27, 2009 | By Dionne Walker Associated Press writer | State, National


Congress allocats money for Intracoastal

WASHINGTON, DC - In directing nearly $1 million in funding for Georgia's portion of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Congress affirmed a recent study by the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute that the channel is essential to Coastal Georgia's economy. Congressman Jack Kingston (R/GA-1), who helped secure the funding, says it will be used to alleviate silting which has caused transit boaters to avoid the area.

"Coastal Georgia has been losing lots of revenue as transit boaters bypass us on the way to Florida," Congressman Kingston said. "If you're moving your yacht from New York to ...

February 27, 2009 | Special to the Courier | State, National


Execution set for 1986 St. Simons murder

ATLANTA - The Georgia attorney general's office says the execution of a man convicted in the 1986 fatal stabbing of a St. Simons woman has been scheduled for March 10.

The attorney general's office says Robert Newland will be executed by lethal injection at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. He was convicted and sentenced to die in 1987 for the fatal stabbing of his neighbor, 27-year-old Carol Sanders Beatty. She was killed in the garden of her home.

February 26, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


House panel OKs $18.9 billion budget

ATLANTA - Grappling with the worst deficit in Georgia's history, the House budget-writing panel on Wednesday approved an $18.9 billion spending plan that funnels hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money into Medicaid and education.

Plummeting state tax collections have ripped a giant hole in the state's revenues. The budget approved on Wednesday by a voice vote in the House Appropriations Committee slashes $2.6 billion in state revenues for the current fiscal year.

February 25, 2009 | By Shannon McCaffrey Associated Press writer | State, National


Drought back in much of state

ATLANTA - Drought conditions have returned to much of Georgia, and the state's climatologist is warning it could get worse.

State climatologist David Stooksbury said Wednesday that drought has returned to many parts of the state that had emerged from dry conditions last year, including swaths of south Georgia. Some 102 counties are in moderate drought, and parts of northeast Georgia are still mired in "severe" and "extreme" conditions.

February 25, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Pre-pay utility bill starts way through House

ATLANTA - Few proposals this legislative session have sparked as much acrimony as a Senate measure that paves the way for Georgia Power to begin charging ratepayers early for a $14 billion nuclear expansion.

The plan, which would effectively increase an average Georgia Power customer's monthly electric bill by about $1.30 starting in 2011, passed the Senate last week. But critics hope they can cripple - or at least delay - the measure as it works its way through the House.

February 19, 2009 | By Greg Bluestein Associated Press writer | State, National


Sunday sales being reformulated

ATLANTA - Sunday sales is back for another round.

Backers of a measure to allow Georgia stores to sell booze on the Sabbath launched a fresh push on Wednesday, arguing the state's struggling economy could use the extra revenue. They are also looking to link the bill this year with one that would crack down on those who sell alcohol to minors.

February 19, 2009 | By Shannon McCaffrey Associated Press writer | State, National


Storms rake over state

ATLANTA - One person was killed and at least 7 were injured when tornadoes, thunderstorms and hail downed trees and power lines in a sweep across Georgia and Alabama, authorities said Thursday.

The National Weather Service planned to send out teams to check on possible tornado touchdowns after the severe weather front moved through from Wednesday afternoon into the night.

February 19, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


State budget cuts hurt senior citizens

Proposed budget cuts to state-funded programs could soon affect some of Georgia's most needy residents.

February 18, 2009 | Frenchi Jones | State, National


State to find money to save property tax break

ATLANTA - Georgia will find the money for a homeowner tax break after all.

Gov. Sonny Perdue on Tuesday signed legislation on Tuesday designed to funnel $428 million in state dollars to the homeowner tax relief grant this year. The grant is worth about $200 to $300 per household.

February 17, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


Teen charged with arson for Savannah fires

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - A Savannah teenager has been booked on multiple arson charges for setting fire to five houses in the same neighborhood.

Savannah Metro police and fire investigators said Tuesday the charges stem from a series of arson fires on North Fernwood Avenue between Feb. 4 and Feb. 6.

February 10, 2009 | Associated Press | State, National


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