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Fight continues over lottery and gaming machines

A small group of House and Senate members continues to try to reach a compromise on a bill to put video gaming machines under the purview of the Georgia Lottery.

The bill is being touted by Gov. Nathan Deal as a way to generate money for the HOPE Scholarship while targeting illegal gambling operations that offer cash payouts.

The Georgia Lottery would get five percent of the proceeds at first and then eventually up to 10 percent.  The machines would be hooked up through a centralized network that could be monitored.  Lottery tickets could also be given as prizes.

But the measure is drawing opposition from a coalition of conservatives groups. Tanya Ditty, with Concerned Women of America, believes it will lead to an expansion of gambling in Georgia.
 
“I don’t think we need to be running the HOPE Scholarship on gaming,” she says.


But Jim Tudor with the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores says it puts legitimate operators on a level playing field.

“We believe since we have to compete against this currently, that it certainly should help in terms of bringing some regulation into the marketplace,” he tells WSB’s Sandra Parrish.

The Senate amended the bill to allow local jurisdictions to decide whether or not to allow the machines.  The House promptly disagreed with the changes.

A compromise must be worked out if the bill is to pass by Thursday, the final day of the session.

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News

  • A Gwinnett County family is trying to make sense of the murder of their husband and father outside their home in a Buford subdivision overnight Thursday. The victim, identified as 43-year-old George Young, was shot dead right outside his own front door. He had just come home from working a security job and his keys were still in the front door when he was shot twice. “I heard two loud gunshots,” says his wife Tia. “At first, I thought it was gunshots, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I wasn’t sure if it was firecrackers.” Her brother, who was asleep on the couch, heard it too. He opened the door to find Young lying on the front porch. “I never heard a car speed off. My brother didn’t either,” says Tia. Gwinnett Police detectives told the woman it does not appear to have been a robbery. “We don’t know where the gunshots came from--whether they came from the porch or came from the street. But our ultimate motive, right now, is to figure out what other people heard,” says Cpl. Michele Pihera. She is asking anyone with information to come forward to police. Tia and her husband had been married close to 23 years and she wonders how she will continue alone raising their three sons. “I lost my dad a few years back to suicide, and I didn’t think it could any worse. But losing a spouse like this, I think it tops that,” she says.
  • His book called gay people 'vile.' Now, a federal judge says she may rule within the next month whether the city of Atlanta fired its fire chief over his religious views.  Kelvin Cochran lost his job in January of 2015, after self-publishing the book 'Who Told You That You Were Naked?' It includes passages that referred to homosexuality as 'vile, vulgar and inappropriate' and akin to 'bestiality.' When concern was raised about the book in late November 2014, Cochran was suspended for 30 days. His lawyer, Kevin Theriot, contends the chief was punished for his religious faith, but attorneys for the city argued that it was Cochran's actions during his suspension while an investigation was underway that got him ousted. City lawyer David Gevertz pointed out that Cochran had been directed to not make public comments about his suspension, but instead helped launch a PR campaign with the Georgia Baptist Convention that resulted in thousands of angry e-mails being sent to City Hall. 'We did not fire Chief Cochran because of his religious beliefs,' said Atlanta Chief Counsel Robert Godfrey. 'It was about trust. It was about his campaign to have people contact the mayor and things like that afterwards.' Theriot contends that Mayor Kasim Reed's public statements and social media posts contradict that, including one in which Reed made clear that he did not share the anti-gay views expressed in Cochran's book. The lawsuit points out that there were 'zero instances of discrimination' by Cochran against any employees, and so Theriot says the rest of what the city says is a pretext. 'There are a few isolated passages that they take out of context to try to depict Chief as being hateful, when in fact, Chief Cochran's beliefs require him to treat everybody equally--and the only evidence before the court is that what he always did,' says Theriot. Theriot acknowledged that some copies of Cochran's book were given to men on the job, but he insists they were from people who asked for it and/or shared similar beliefs as the chief. Gevertz pointed out in court that the book created a hostile work environment and could leave the city open to lawsuits from disgruntled employees or unsuccessful candidates once the views of Cochran, a member of the mayor's cabinet, were known publicly. Cochran's lawsuit seeks back pay after his suspension and termination, as well as reinstatement. He has also filed a separate complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Cochran says his childhood dream was to become a fire chief, and he says the discrimination and racial slurs experienced in his early years working in Louisiana combined to make him vow that if he were ever in a position of authority, no one would face discrimination because they were a minority under his leadership. Yet, he says, that is why the city terminated him. 'I was shocked that writing a book encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be would jeopardize my 34-year career,' said Cochran on Friday. 'It's still unthinkable to me that the very faith and patriotism that inspired my professional achievements and drove me to treat all people with love, equity, and justice, are actually what the government used to end my childhood dream-come-true career. 'In the United States of America, true tolerance should be a two-way street for all Americans,' Cochran continued. 'No one deserves to be marginalized or driven out of their profession because of their faith.' U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May grilled lawyers on both sides with questions about the cases they cited in support of their arguments, and says she will write a detailed analysis and likely issue a ruling in about three weeks. The attorneys are seeking summary judgment, meaning they are asking the judge to decide the case. If she cannot rule on every issue raised, says Judge May, the Cochran case will go to trial on the ones she cannot resolve, putting the questions in the hands of a jury. A trial would likely be held next spring. Any jury pool will likely include some people like Tonya Ditty, who tells WSB that she has been a longtime supporter of Cochran since the case began in 2014. She attended Friday's hearing and says she was also at a rally at the state Capitol for him. Ditty says she is concerned about 'the trampling of religious rights,' no matter what religion. 'When our Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they did not pick a religion,' says Ditty. 'This is fitting for everyone. I think that often is said that, 'Oh, the Christians just want protection.' This is for any religion. I don't think it's ever been stated that we are trying just to protect Christians.' Ditty, who says she is a Christian, says people of faith are being stifled. 'I either have to live out my faith in church or in my home, but dare me come out into the marketplace of ideas, and then I'm under attack,' she says.
  • Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama's Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women in particular.'He will not step down. He will not stop fighting for the people of Alabama,' Kayla Moore said Friday at a 'Women for Moore' rally. Acting as her husband's lead defender, she lashed out at the news media and thanked people who were sticking behind her husband. 'To the people of Alabama, thank you for being smarter than they think you are,' Moore said.Not everyone is sticking with Roy Moore, however, and certainly not all women.'I was going to vote for him. I was going to be one of his voters. I just don't know that I can vote for him anymore,' said Laura Payne, a Trump delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention.Since last week, Moore has been engulfed by accusations of sexual misconduct toward women in their teens when he was a deputy district attorney in his 30s. Several of his accusers have allowed their identities to be made public.One said Moore molested her when she was 14. Another said Moore assaulted her when she was a 16-year-old waitress after he offered to drive her home. Five others said Moore pursued romantic relationships with them when they were between the ages of 16 and 18.'I have not found any reason not to believe them .... They risked a whole lot to come forward,' Payne said of the accusers.Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she also has no reason to disbelieve the women and is bothered by their allegations. But Ivey said she will vote for Moore anyway for the sake of GOP power in Congress.'We need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like Supreme Court justices, other appointments that the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,' Ivey said.Moore has ignored mounting calls from Washington Republicans concerned that if he stays in the race against Democrat Doug Jones he may not only lose a seat they were sure to win but also may do significant damage to the party's brand among women nationwide as they prepare for a difficult midterm election season.The Alabama GOP, meanwhile, reaffirmed its support for Moore on Thursday.The accusations sent a shockwave through the Senate race in Alabama, where Republicans typically have a lock on statewide election. Democrats already hoped to stand a chance against the polarizing jurist who was twice removed from chief justice duties because of defying court orders regarding the Ten Commandments and gay marriage.A Fox News poll released Thursday, a week after the first accusations, showed Jones leading Moore by eight points. Support from women was helping to give Jones the edge with 68 percent for Jones compared to 32 percent for Moore.One of them is longtime Republican Tracy James, who worked for former senator and current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Her cousin was a Republican governor. She won't vote for Moore, a decision she made before the election.'My hope is that the Moore debacle will not only be a wake-up call for evangelicals, but also for Republicans, who should stand back and say, 'Wow, look at the kind of person we almost elected to our ranks,' James said.But Kayla Moore says her husband is exactly the kind of person who needs to be in the Senate.Decades ago, then known by her maiden name, Kayla Kisor, she was performing in a hometown dance recital when she first caught Roy Moore's eye. As he wrote in his 2009 autobiography: Seeing her was something he never forgot.'Years later,' Moore wrote, when she was 23 — she's 14 years his junior— he finally met her. They wed in 1985.Now, Kayla Moore is doing more than standing by her husband — she's his most aggressive defender against allegations threatening his Republican bid for U.S. Senate.When Moore makes a public appearance, Kayla Moore is there. When something pops up on social media that could help his cause, she shares it on Facebook. And she was the star at the Statehouse rally in Montgomery.Speakers there said the allegations against Moore were out of character for the man they have known for years.'I do not recognize the man these ladies are describing,' Ann Eubank, a fixture in Alabama Republican politics, said of the accusers.Across the street from the rally, Rose Falvey, 25, who runs an LGBT community center, said she was angered by the stories about Moore since he had fought to block gay marriage in the state.'I think it's really hypocritical and an embarrassment for the state of Alabama, and he's dragging us backwards,' Falvey said.____Associated Press writers Steve Peoples and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama, and Zeke Miller and Catherine Lucey in Washington contributed to this report.
  • Gainesville police are investigating an officer-involved shooting along Athens Street at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.  Police said a man got into a shootout with police and then ran.  We'll have updates on this developing story, on Channel 2 Action News Saturday AM. Investigators are telling people nearby to lock their doors and report any suspicious activity to police.  TRENDING STORIES: Another cheating scandal: APS police chief disciplines 17 officers, dispatcher Lawsuit: Sun Dial restaurant ‘had no protections' to stop 5-year-old's death Woman carjacked, kidnapped while pumping gas The police department said officers have been transported to the hospital, but there is no word on any injuries. A manhunt is now underway for the suspect, described as a Hispanic male, longer hair, wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been called in to help with the investigation. 
  • You can tell from Blake Shelton’s reaction to winning People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” honors that the award is one to be taken lightly. The tall and talented Okie has been appreciative yet modest about the recognition and, at times, he’s even self-deprecating. But his good friends, including Tim McGraw, have got his back. >> Read more trending news Sort of. McGraw and wife Faith Hill appeared on the nationally syndicated “Ty, Kelly & Chuck” radio show Thursday, and it turns out there are several country fans who would have liked to see the “Humble and Kind” singer win the magazine cover instead. And those country fans aren’t shy about sharing their feelings. McGraw read one tweet from a fan who said, “We all know that Blake Shelton is not the sexiest man alive, especially in country music. We know that nobody holds a candle to George Strait or Tim McGraw, so how about we redo the Sexiest Man Alive thing?” After a solid chuckle, McGraw admitted, “I think Blake is pretty sexy,” and Hill added, “He has a great sense of humor, and that is sexy.” No doubt! Host Ty Bentli also shared a tweet that read, “Blake Shelton looks like the dad in a drug commercial where they list the side effects at the end while you watch him build a birdhouse.” OK, we love Shelton to pieces, but that’s hilarious, y’all! And we imagine Shelton would find it funny, too, because as Bentli confirmed, “The best part is, he was just in here and he totally will take this and he loves it.” McGraw added, “When you’re the sexiest man alive, you can take anything.” Also true. Shelton is sexy, McGraw is sexy, Hill is sexy, Bentli, Kelly and Chuck are sexy … there’s just a whole lotta sexy goin’ on in country music. But of that group, only Shelton, McGraw and Hill are nominated for Rare Country Awards. Hill leads with four nominations, while Shelton and McGraw are tied with three apiece. It’s up to you to decide the winners! Vote now through Dec. 13 at RareCountryAwards.com. Winners will be revealed during a livestreamed concert event on Dec. 14 in Nashville.
  • A woman says members of the KKK are threatening her family after an argument on Facebook. The Bartow County Sheriff’s office is investigating it as a case of terroristic threats. The woman, who did not want to be identified, said someone questioned in a Facebook post if a Martin Luther King Jr. statue should be taken down since Confederate statues and signs are being removed. “What I said was, ‘Wow. Are we really talking about this? Is this a joke?” she said. Somewhere in the comments, she managed to catch the attention of a self-proclaimed member of the Ku Klux Klan. He claimed she was threatening him and his family and in turn posted pictures of her children and her work address. The woman said it wasn’t long before she received dozens of threatening messages in her inbox. TRENDING STORIES: Another cheating scandal: APS police chief disciplines 17 officers, dispatcher Lawsuit: Sun Dial restaurant ‘had no protections' to stop 5-year-old's death Police: UGA student Snapchats during high-speed chase “One lady messaged me and told me I’d be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. One man said, ‘You don’t mess with the Klan,’' she said. The woman, who is white and has a black husband and biracial children, said some messages targeted her family’s makeup. “(They said) my kids are going to go to hell. We’re not supposed to mix races. I know where you work. I know where your family lives,” she said. Channel 2’s Carl Willis contacted the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office and learned an investigator has been assigned to the case. The woman said she is now living in fear. “It’s anxiety and paranoia. I’m constantly looking out of the window,” the woman said. “I literally won’t go anywhere without my gun. I won’t go to the bathroom without my gun.” Willis tried to contact the man who took offense to the woman's post, but the phone numbers were not current. The sheriff's office said it will be doing extra patrols around the woman's home.