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Gallup: Percentagewise, metro Atlanta has a larger LGBT population than New York

031715 ATLANTA: Audrey "Mayour" Martin holds a sign in the air during a rally at the Capitol against SB 129, the "license to discriminate" legislation pushed by Sen. Josh McKoon and Rep. Sam Teasley on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, at Liberty Plaza in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com Audrey "Mayour" Martin holds a sign in the air during a Tuesday rally at the Capitol against SB 129, “religious liberty” legislation authored by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. Opponents argue that it would give protection to those who would discriminate against gay couples. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
031715 ATLANTA: Audrey "Mayour" Martin holds a sign in the air during a rally at the Capitol against SB 129, the "license to discriminate" legislation pushed by Sen. Josh McKoon and Rep. Sam Teasley on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, at Liberty Plaza in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com Audrey "Mayour" Martin holds a sign in the air during a Tuesday rally at the Capitol against SB 129, “religious liberty” legislation authored by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus. Opponents argue that it would give protection to those who would discriminate against gay couples. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Jim Galloway

Credit: Jim Galloway

An estimated 4.2 percent of metro Atlanta's population identify themselves as gay or lesbian, placing the region in the top half of a list of 50 metropolitan areas, according to a Gallup analysis that the New York Times is calling the most extensive of its kind.

Percentagewise, Atlanta’s LGBT population ranks ahead of New York (though maybe not Manhattan proper), but below the Southern cities of New Orleans (5.1 percent), Louisville, Ky. (4.5 percent), Virginia Beach, Va. (4.4 percent), and Jacksonville (4.3 percent) and Miami, Fla. (4.2 percent)

The biggest surprise may be Salt Lake City, which was gauged to have the seventh strongest gay population in the nation -- 4.7 percent. San Franscisco, of course, was tops.

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Senate Rules Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, swears he's just having a little fun with those signs he's been putting up. One was a short list of lobbyists who were not welcome in his fourth floor Capitol office. Then there was the one highlighting House members who voted against H.B. 170, the transportation funding bill.

The latest, on display Thursday, was an enlarged print-out of the House vote on H.B. 110, the bill to legalize real, flash-boom fireworks in Georgia. Mullis, representing a border district, is a big fan. House opponents of the measure, now in the Senate under Mullis’ protection, were marked in yellow.

Such displays tend to make lawmakers nervous, because House members are obliged to publicly request Mullis’ rule committee to put their bills on the Senate floor for a vote.

But when it came to firecrackers, state Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, decided to own his opposition. He autographed Mullis’ cardboard, right beside his “no” vote. “A star,” he wrote on one side of his name. “Good person,” on the other.

Rogers doesn’t regret his vote against the pyrotechnics bill. A childhood friend of his lost a hand to a firecracker, he said.

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Gov. Nathan Deal has questions about the impact of a Senate proposal to require that health insurance policies cover autism therapy for children under the age of six.

Senate Bill 1 has passed the Senate and is now pending in the House, where a similar measure was bottled up last year amid opposition from GOP leaders who called it an unfunded mandate.

The governor, though, said that the measure wouldn't go far enough because it wouldn't apply to most families. That's a debate that can only be settled by federal lawmakers, he said.

"The frustrating thing about the autism debate is that we only have jurisdiction pretty much over small employers in this state, those who do not qualify under the federal ERISA plans. Those are controlled by the dictates of Congress," he said to a gaggle of reporters. "The question that none of y'all seem to be asking is why are we not seeing pressure on Congress to include autism as a mandated coverage benefit?"

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A measure to regulate Uber and other ride-sharing services was approved by the state Senate's Science and Technology Committee, which means it can reach a full vote as soon as next week.

Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said the decision "brings us one step closer to a permanent home for ride-sharing in Georgia."

"We urge the Senate to act quickly to send the bill to the governor’s desk. This smart proposal supports Georgians' right to safe rides and economic opportunities," Bennett said.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is instructing state governments how to legally defy new Environmental Protection Agency regulations requiring reduced emissions from coal-fired power plants.  From the New York Times:

On Thursday, Mr. McConnell sent a detailed letter to every governor in the United States laying out a carefully researched legal argument as to why states should not comply with Mr. Obama's regulations. In the letter, Mr. McConnell wrote that the president was "allowing the E.P.A. to wrest control of a state's energy policy."

You can bet Gov. Nathan Deal's administration will be reading it closely.

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African-American leaders had pushed U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., to attend the festivities in Selma, Ala., after he was embroiled in a scandal about speaking at a white supremacist conference 10 years ago. But the House Majority Whip didn't show.

Why not? He was in Sea Island. From Politico:

"Due to a prior commitment, Scalise was unable to attend this year. He has accepted his invitation and looks forward to joining civil rights leaders and his colleagues in Selma next year," said TJ Tatum. The exclusive, and off-of-the-record, AEI annual event attracts some of the biggest names in Republican politics. Past participants include House Speaker John Boehner, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan.

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