Johnny Isakson, David Perdue on climate change: It's not a hoax, but it's not your fault, either

Georgia's two U.S. Senators admit the earth's climate is changing, but they're unwilling to place the blame on their fellow human beings.

Democrats have been attempting to force embarrassing amendment votes on their Republican counterparts during this week's debate over the Keystone XL pipeline. It started Wednesday with a near-unanimous vote that "climate change is not a hoax." Even chief global warming  skeptic James Inhofe, R-Okla., jumped on board, declaring that the Bible offered evidence that the earth's climate isn't static.

The votes were purely symbolic -- they had no action attached. But they were instructive about the state of the climate debate. Politico has more backstory here.

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Over at Georgia Health News, Andy Miller reports that the state could come close to 500,000 enrollments by the federal health insurance exchange by the Feb. 15 deadline. Last year’s total was 316,543.

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State lawmakers have received MARTA’s formal wish list for the session. We’ve pulled out a few of the transit agency’s verbatim objectives, which include eliminating the low-cost option for new jurisdictions that want to join the (now) three-county operation:

-- Permanent Elimination of the 50/50 Capital/Operating Sales Tax Split

The permanent elimination of this mandate would provide MARTA Board/CEO with the fiscal authority commensurate with its responsibility to manage the overall organization, and the flexibility to respond to changing economic conditions. MARTA was again granted an additional suspension of the mandate for another three years.

-- Reduce the Need for Supermajority Vote on Certain Items

Currently, the MARTA Board requires a supermajority vote on several items concerning that probably only needs a simple majority vote for passage. In order to streamline the process, we propose eliminating the supermajority mandate under these circumstances.

-- Amend Language Pertaining to Sales & Use Tax Rates for Joining System

We propose eliminating the 1/2% option from the MARTA Act language completely, thus eliminating the lower sales and use tax rate option permanently for prospective jurisdictional partners.

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The 2015 Georgia March for Life will take to Liberty Plaza at 11 a.m. today. The two-hour event ends with a silent march, followed by a seminar on citizen-lobbying in the state Capitol.

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Twitter was set aflutter this week by Gov. Nathan Deal's mysterious overseas journey to Britain. Some gave the governor a new nickname:

Some channeled Mark Sanford:

Some weren't fans of Brian Robinson's sense of humor:

Some were just plain worried about his whereabouts:

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The timing of the trip also led to scrutiny from Deal critics. Democratic veteran, former Georgian and columnist Ed Kilgore, writing in Washington Monthly, questioned why the journey took place over MLK Day. (The governor celebrated the Atlanta native's holiday with a state ceremony on Friday shortly before he made the trip.)

From Kilgore:

Now if there’s any place on earth that ought to treat MLK Day as a big public holiday that public officials just don’t skip, it’s King’s home state of Georgia. If Deal skipped it to fly to London to set up some bogus “announcement” of an economic development “breakthrough” meant to reflect well on his power and glory, that’s worse. And if in order to “close” the “deal,” the governor traded away public policies and public revenues that King would almost certainly have suggested a better use for than political-corporate feather-nesting, then this is damn near close to sacrilege.

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U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, has taken up the cause of a Fort Benning Army chaplain who was dinged by superiors, Collins says, for telling soldiers how his faith got him through a battle with depression.

From the letter Collins wrote to Deputy Commander John F. King, regarding Capt. Joe Lawhorn:

"I fear that the issuance of a Letter of Concern to Chaplain Lawhorn, whose presentation was consistent with Army regulations and well within the scope of previously stated policies, will send the wrong message to other military chaplains and service members. Chaplain Lawhorn drew upon his personal experience and faith to offer potentially life-saving suggestions to colleagues in need. I believe that this could have a chilling effect on the candid religious, spiritual, and secular advice other chaplains might wish to offer."

Collins served as an Air Force chaplain in Iraq in 2008.

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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, re-introduced his bill Wednesday to reform the grand jury system, in the wake of the decisions on police officer shootings in Missouri and New York. (More background here on how Johnson is positioning himself as a legislative arm of the Black Lives Matter movement.)

Johnson popped in to address a young-ish crowd and panelists that included the NAACP, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Code Pink. Said Johnson:

"The instructions given by prosecutors and the decisions made by grand juries in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases raised serious concerns about the ability of secret grand jury proceedings to be sure justice is applied fairly. The lack of transparency in the grand jury process erodes confidence in law enforcement and reinforces the notion that law enforcement officers treat people differently based on the color of their skin."

Johnson's bill so far has 21 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

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