Whew. Gas prices drop by 50 cents since tax hike added

If you're Gov. Nathan Deal or a Republican state lawmaker who voted for that $900 million-a-year bill to fund road and bridge repairs, go ahead and exhale. Then thank your lucky stars -- and maybe the Saudis.

The our AJC colleague James Salzer

Exploregives us half the tale here:

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Monday that August collections were up 13.6 percent last month, an increase of $190 million over August 2014. During the first two months of the fiscal year, revenue collections have improved almost 10 percent.

But the other half of the story is the fact that, in political terms, the gas tax hike has been nearly free money. The

Explorelatest AAA fuel report

shows the price of the average regular gallon of gas in Georgia at $2.19. That's about 50 cents below the price it was when the new gas taxes took hold:

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An important line of opposition may be forming in a brand-new look by the state Legislature at casinos and horse-racing in Georgia. On the first of two days of hearings, a joint House-Senate committee heard from Debbie Alford, CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corp. – who warned against the move. From Walter Jones and Morris News Service:

Whitaker Askew, vice president of government relations at the American Gaming Association, referred to Ohio, which recently expanded from a state lottery to casinos.

"We've not seen negative impact from lotteries from casino operations," he said.

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Eli Lilly and Company, an American global pharmaceutical company based in Indianapolis, was a key player in this year's revolt against a "religious liberty" bill passed by that state's legislature.

A non-discrimination clause was added, but even so, Lilly chief executive John Lechleiter said the episode came with a cost. From the Indianapolis Star:

This fall, company executives will gear up to help push for expansion of Indiana's civil rights law — the long-term solution needed to replace the temporary patch that lawmakers affixed to RFRA last spring.

"There's a distinct possibility we'll look back and say we did not want to have to go through (the RFRA controversy), but it led us to a better place," Lechleiter said.

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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., will be in Atlanta on Sunday to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. You can hang with the rising Democratic Party star at Manuel's Tavern at 3:30 p.m. (invite here) for as little as $50, or $25 if you are a student. Hosts (at the $1,000 donation level) are listed as T.J. Copeland, Falak Hindash, Eric Teusink, Matt Weiss, Ted Terry, and Nikema Williams.

The money is more likely to go to high-profile races against Republican senators in states like Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, but Georgia Democrats have a promising recruit in Ebenezer Baptist Church Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is considering a challenge to U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.

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If you're a certain Democratic presidential candidate, this is where you start worrying. From the Washington Post:

The numbers in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll are an alarm siren: Where 71 percent of Democratic-leaning female voters said in July that they expected to vote for Clinton, only 42 percent do now, a drop of 29 percentage points in eight weeks.

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The cavalry is coming to take down Donald Trump. Will it work?

Here's the first effort from Club For Growth, a $1 million-plus ad buy in Iowa.

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The Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans is shaking up their leadership and renting new office space.

The organization, under fire amid new scrutiny over Rebel flag symbols, announced that Fran Dye will be its new executive secretary. It also leased office space at the Dunlap House in Macon.

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The Democratic National Committee took issue with Monday's news that state Sen. Fran Millar was among the Georgia Republicans backing Ohio Gov. John Kasich's presidential bid.

DNC spokesman Michael Tyler tied Millar to a debate in Ohio over voting changes being challenged in court.

"As John Kasich touts endorsements from divisive politicians like Fran Millar and Trent Lott, he’s making it absolutely clear that he is out of touch with mainstream Americans and has no interest in expanding the Republican Party’s appeal beyond its extreme conservative base," said Tyler. "He’s giving the American people a clear picture of what a Kasich presidency would look like – and it’s not a pretty one."

Millar, R-Dunwoody, drew national attention when he promised to end Sunday balloting in DeKalb County when state lawmakers assemble in January.

"When you only have Sunday voting in select precincts with traditional one party strength, then there is a fairness issue," said Millar. "If it was only Perimeter Mall rather than South DeKalb Mall, then that would be wrong."

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You'll recall that last Sunday, we posted on why Georgia Democrats are unlikely to abandon Hillary Clinton, despite her troubles.

AJC reader Barbara Cheng took exception, sending us a long email that included these thoughts on Clinton's chief rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and his visit to Atlanta last week. Her message included these paragraphs:

Friday was the first political fundraiser I could ever afford. It was the first political fundraiser that I could take my 13 year-old daughter too. And despite the heat, standing and crowd, my 13 year-old never complained. She was completely engaged and listened. No soundbites. No canned speeches. For the first time, a candidate who actually spoke to us.