Georgia

Florida politicos are crossing over into Georgia as that state faces a critical runoff in two U.S. Senate races. Those seats could decide the fate of the Senate—and Republicans and Democrats are battling to get their candidates across the finish line. The fight over Georgia, coupled with Florida’s relatively low profile at the moment, is raising a question: is Georgia, the new Florida?

Early voting opened Monday in Georgia for the 2020 general election — but the first day was marred by technical issues and lines that in some locations stretched more than five hours long, particularly in the Atlanta metro area.

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

The Camden County Board of Elections is getting an infusion of funds to try to ensure voters’ safety during the coronavirus epidemic.

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Coast Guard rescued two men early Thursday morning after their fishing vessel ran aground in St Marys Inlet in St. Marys, Ga.

Spaceport Camden

Nearly eight years into its quest to build a spaceport in coastal Georgia, Camden County is proposing the use of drones and aerial surveillance on launch days, as part of a plan to monitor the number of people on private property and in a national park, which lie beneath its proposed rocket trajectories.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is suing the Atlanta City Council and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms following her efforts to require face masks in public places as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to skyrocket across the nation.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, asserts that Kemp alone "leads the State of Georgia in its fight against the worldwide novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic" and adds he has the power "to suspend municipal orders that are contradictory to any state law or to his executive orders."

Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law drew withering criticism Monday from civil rights advocates who called for a House legislative committee to push for a repeal of an antiquated and dangerous law rooted in racism that dates to its use to detain suspected escaped slaves.

The law captured the attention of many lawmakers and the public after it was used to justify the detention and subsequent killing of 25-year-old African American Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County early this year.

The Washington Redskins on Monday announced the NFL franchise was retiring the team's controversial nickname following a review process that started several weeks ago.

"As part of this process, we want to keep our sponsors, fans and community apprised of our thinking as we go forward," the football team said in a statement. "Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review."

According to Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter, Georgia’s citizen’s arrest law is rooted in medieval times and is an “outmoded concept” in this age of “increased police forces.”

Porter made those remarks at a Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee hearing on Monday.

A dog that tested positive for coronavirus in Georgia last week did not pass the disease to a second dog in the home,  state health officials said Thursday.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday signed an executive order mandating face masks in Georgia's largest city in an attempt to bring the coronavirus pandemic under control. 

The decision defies the governor's executive order that stops short of such a mandate.

While a record 1.1 million Georgians voted by mail in this year’s June 9 primary, thousands more ballots were not counted because they came in after the Election Day deadline.

According to the state’s absentee voting records, more than 11,000 mail-in ballots were rejected this cycle, and 8,479 were received after polls closed, with the late ballots about 0.74% of the total absentee ballots returned.

Whether going to a restaurant or window-shopping downtown, people will be required to wear face masks in Athens as of 8 a.m. Thursday morning, after it gets signed by the mayor. 

The Athens-Clarke County commission unanimously approved an ordinance on Tuesday night that makes masks mandatory in public spaces. 

Facing an uproar from professors, the state system overseeing Georgia universities abruptly changed course on face masks late Monday, mandating students at public universities wear masks in classrooms due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she has tested postive for COVID-19, although she is asymptomatic. 

In a tweet Monday, the mayor said "COVID-19 has literally hit home."

As the state of Georgia continues to see coronavirus cases rising at an alarming rate, Georgia Tech professors are continuing to speak out against the current reopening plans, saying their health and students' health must be the top priority.  


At least 11 Georgia Tech students living in Greek life housing near campus have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks, the university told GPB News Thursday.

The University of Georgia said Tuesday 154 people on campus, comprised of students and faculty, have tested positive for COVID-19. The news comes as both the state of Georgia and the U.S. have experienced a spike in confirmed cases.

Shannon Stevens, an Entertainment and Media Studies senior, found the news frightening, but not surprising.

"I would see frat house lawns filled with people — none wearing masks or social distancing," she said. "I also drove through downtown and saw the same thing."

Gov. Brian Kemp won't make face masks mandatory, but he's visiting Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Savannah and Valdosta ahead of the holiday weekend to encourage everyone to heed public health advice and wear a mask to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Kemp also extended the public health state of emergency to Aug. 11. The emergency order was set to expire at the end of this month.

CNN Center In Atlanta To Be Sold

Jun 30, 2020

The historic CNN Center in downtown Atlanta that has served as the global headquarters for the 24-hour news network for decades is up for sale, WarnerMedia announced Monday. 

WarnerMedia chief financial officer Pascal Desroches informed employees of the news in an email titled "CNN Center - Property Update."

The Georgia legislature sent a hate crimes bill to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk Tuesday, spurred on by the recent killing of a Black man in Glynn County that received nationwide attention and revived a bill stalled in the Senate for more than a year. 

House Bill 426 adds extra penalties for those found guilty of committing certain crimes against someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. 

The final version also requires the creation of a database to track hate crimes across the state.

The City of Savannah plans to make masks mandatory amid a rise in coronavirus cases, Mayor Van Johnson said during a special called meeting of the city council Monday.

Over the weekend Georgia saw its largest spike in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, with experts warning about an alarming rise in the state's poultry and agricultural workers.


Bill Would Ban Georgia’s Confederate Monuments

Jun 23, 2020

If state Rep. Shelley Hutchinson had her way, the inside of Georgia's Capitol would look much different.

"If you owned slaves, if you advocated for slavery, then you shouldn't be glorified," said Hutchinson, D-Snellville.

For years, there has been on again, off again conversation in Macon about moving the Confederate statue at the foot of Cotton Avenue. Now is a definitely an on again time, as it is for monuments elsewhere.

Coinciding with the Juneteenth holiday, artists in Macon built a box around the foot of the statue to create a place for creative expression and hopefully spurring positive conversation about what to do about the statue, conversations couched in love rather than hate.

While neither chamber had a hate crimes bill on their calendars for a rare Saturday session, two Senators took to the floor to talk passionately about the legislation, sparring over last-minute changes that protect police and other first responders.

"I am the only Jewish person in this room,"  said Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford. "Who wants a hate crimes bill more than me? (If so) I don't know who you are." 

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveiled a plan Wednesday to help Georgia elections officials better prepare for the general election and minimize the likelihood of long lines and problems at the polls.

Speaking in front of Park Tavern, where nearly 16,000 active voters were assigned to cast their ballots and wait times lasted more than three hours, Raffensperger also took aim at the voting issues Fulton County residents faced.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp pledged in his State of the State address in January to come up with a remedy for out-of-network medical billing, sometimes called surprise medical billing.

On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act. The bill helps remove patients from being in the middle of billing disputes between medical insurers and providers.

Residents of Atlanta grappled Sunday with a city roiled by the fatal police shooting of 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks and protests that resulted in the burning down of the Wendy’s where Brooks was killed in the parking lot.

The charred remnants of the Wendy’s continued to smolder Sunday.

Police body and dash camera videos show two Atlanta police officers having a cordial conversation with Rayshard Brooks in the minutes before the fatal shooting in a Wendy’s parking lot.

At one point, Brooks even told an officer that his daughter’s birthday was the day before.

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