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state & regional govt & politics

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Georgians have to wait for income tax refunds

Georgia income tax refunds might not be issued until more than 90 days after returns are filed this year as the state guards against the threat of tax fraud.

The Georgia Department of Revenue blocked more than $212 million in fraudulently filed refund requests last year. Meanwhile, the IRS is warning of an ongoing email scam in which people pose as potential clients to trick tax professionals into disclosing sensitive information.

All businesses must file their employee W-2 information by Jan. 31, and the state will begin processing individual income tax returns Feb. 1.

The deadline to file tax returns is April 17 this year — two days later than normal — because April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is an official holiday in the District of Columbia for Emancipation Day.

Georgia governor: State is ‘prepared’ for gameday wintry blitz

Gov. Nathan Deal said Sunday the state is “prepared” for a blast of wintry weather that has forced officials to shutter schools across metro Atlanta and close government offices in much of north Georgia. 

The governor ordered non-essential state offices from Columbus to Augusta and northward to be closed on Monday, and city of Atlanta officials announced a similar order for local offices. 

The shutdown comes as the state ramps up preparations for the College Football National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama on Monday night. Traffic was already expected to be gridlocked across metro Atlanta ahead of the game, which President Donald Trump is set to attend.

Deal said state transportation workers have brined highways and key intersections and bridges for days to prepare for the icy weather, and that he’s confident it won’t hamper preparations for the Monday night game. 

“I don’t think it’s going to affect them,” he said. “We are prepared for that, and our preparations are ongoing. “

Deal’s order does not extend to the state Capitol, which will remain open on Monday so the Legislature can gavel in the 2018 legislation session as required by the state Constitution. 

Deal’s administration has embraced a better-safe-than-sorry approach to wintry weather since snowfall in 2014 paralyzed the region and made Atlanta the butt of national jokes. 

KY GOP official accused of exposing himself in department store bathroom

A Kentucky dentist and chairman of his county’s Republican Party has lost his political post and is facing criminal charges following a weekend arrest in Tennessee on charges of indecent exposure and resisting arrest. 

David Narramore, 54, of Whitesburg, was arrested Saturday night at a Belk department store in Kingsport, Tennessee. WJHL in Johnson City, Tennessee, reported that Kingsport police officers were called to the store by a loss prevention officer. 

The man told the officers that he was in a stall in the store’s men’s room, when the person in the next stall, later identified as Narramore, began rubbing his foot with his own. Narramore is also accused of exposing his genitals to the man, WJHL said.

The employee detained Narramore and held him in the loss prevention office until Kingsport police arrived, the news station said. 

When officers attempted to arrest Narramore, he refused to put his hands behind his back, WJHL reported. When he continued to pull away and fight the officers, they used a Taser on him. 

The Taser had no effect, and the officers wrestled him to the ground to handcuff him, police said. 

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Narramore, who complained at the scene of chest pains, was evaluated by paramedics before being booked into the Kingsport City Jail. He was released the next day after posting $2,250 bail. 

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Narramore resigned his post with the Republican Party’s Letcher County branch following the arrest. 

“Dr. Narramore is clearly going through some personal issues,” Tres Watson, communications director for the state GOP, told the Herald-Leader. “We wish him well as he attempts to deal with (his) personal struggles.”

 

Gov. Chris Christie shuts down N.J. government

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered a government shutdown at midnight Friday after funding for a new state budget failed, NJ.com reported.

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The shutdown came after last-ditch attempts to reach a compromise between Christie and New Jersey Democrats who control the state legislature failed.

“This order is necessary to maintain the protection, safety and well-being of the people of New Jersey while I attempt to convince the Legislature to send me a fiscally responsible budget that I can sign and reopen New Jersey’s government,” Christie said.

The shutdown is the second in state history and will close government facilities like state parks and motor vehicle service offices, NJ.com reported. It will not affect organizations like the New Jersey State Police and psychiatric hospitals, and the state lottery will remain in operation.

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

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Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Here's how to endorse a political candidate on Facebook

For those who use Facebook as an outlet to voice their political opinions, one feature makes the boldest statement: officially endorsing the candidate of your choice on the social media platform.

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To endorse a candidate, users only have to complete five steps: 

  1. Click the Endorsement tab on the political figure's Facebook page
  2. Click Endorse
  3. Choose the audience you want to see your endorsement post
  4. Write something to go along with your post
  5. Click Post

According to Facebook, users who post their endorsements to a public audience can be featured on candidates' pages if the candidates decide to repost any specific endorsement status.

Only pages that mark a figure as a politician, political candidate or government official can have the endorsement option.

Among those who can be endorsed are presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Duke, a Great Pyrenees that won a third one-year term as honorary mayor of Cormorant, Minnesota, in August, and Mayor Stubbs, a cat that has been the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, since the 1990s.

Photos: Democratic National Convention Day 3

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