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Governor Deal proposes $42B budget, more education funding

Governor Deal proposes $42B budget, more education funding

A $42.3 billion budget plan from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal would increase spending on education as the economy slowly recovers from a deep recession.

Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia

Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
ATLANTA (AP) - After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1. The laws are among a small number of major bills that become law with the new year. Others include rules requiring all new day care employees to undergo more exhaustive background checks, as well as a requirement that schools provide information about concussion risks to parents. While the ethics laws set the first state limits on how much a lobbyist can spend, there remain considerable loopholes and questions about how it will all be enforced. Under the new laws, lobbyists will not be able to spend more than $75 at a time. Previously, lobbyists could spend as much as they wanted as long as it was noted on disclosure reports filed with the state. (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Central Georgia Election Roundup

Central Georgians take to the polls Tuesday in more than 60 races in which mayors and city council members will be elected and Sunday alcohol sales questions will be answered in some areas.

Some voters in the Tuesday elections will also decide special purpose local option sales tax questions.

The following is a list of Central Georgia cities and counties hosting elections.

-Warner Robins

Obama's Team to Clarify Health Care Penalties

David Jackson, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is seeking to clarify penalty rules for people who delay signing up for coverage under the new health care law.

Simply put: People who wait until the end of the initial enrollment period - March 31 - will not be penalized.

The Obama administration is preparing legal guidance to address a confusion of dates in the law, which says people must sign up by the 15th of one month to receive coverage on the first of the next month.

That means someone who signed up after Feb. 15 would not be covered until April 1 - and the law also says that people who go three months without coverage are subject to penalties, $95 or 1% of income, whichever is higher.

That is not the case, the White House says.

In Brief: How a Shutdown Could Affect You

Even if you're not a federal employee, a partial government shutdown could affect you in many ways.

Here are some examples:

Schools 
- Head Start grants that expire on Oct. 1 would not be renewed.
- 94 percent of U.S. Department of Education employees would be furloughed.
- School grants and loans, such as Pell grants and direct student loans would "continue as normal," officials say, but payment of money could be delayed.
- Colleges and schools that receive federal funding would also experience delays.

Federal loans
- A government shutdown would freeze all federal loans.
- Businesses and home buyers would not be able to take out loans.

Social Security
- Payments would continue but could be delayed, and the administration would continue taking payment applications.
- Medicare and Medicaid services would continue.

Census: Minority Population Growing

Census: Minority Population Growing

Putnam County's minority population reached 34.7 percent last year, according to Census Bureau statistics and USATODAY research. Hancock County's reached 76.3 percent and Greene County's reached 44.2 percent. That is the percentage of the population in the county who is another ethnicity other than white non-hispanic.

By Greg Toppo and Paul Overberg, USATODAY (Click for the full, interactive map)

Miriam Paris to Challenge Sen. Lucas in 2014

For the third time in three years, Miriam Paris will be running for state senate in 2014.

The former Macon City Council president announced today she's running for the District 26 seat now held by David Lucas.

In 2011, she beat Lucas in a runoff for a special election on the senate seat.

She held the seat for barely a year but helped pass Macon-Bibb consolidation.

Then last year, Lucas beat her in a rematch.

Paris made a brief statement this morning at Coleman Park downtown, but would not take any questions.