Happy Monday! Here are your round up news stories to start your week in “the know!” If you missed last week’s click here to get caught up! All of the articles below are fact-based and nonpartisan.
Monday, April 4, 2022
What to watch on the last day of Georgia’s 2022 lawmaking session
AJC (by Mark Niesse)
The grand finale of this year’s legislative session Monday will bring a frenzy of votes on some of Georgia’s most hotly debated issues. Here’s a look at some of the bills that could receive final votes in the Republican-controlled General Assembly — or die until next year…
NOTE: Be sure to read this article ⬆️ Today is Sine Die, AKA the last day of Georgia legislation, meaning this is the last day for legislators to get their bill(s) passed so they have the potential to be signed by Governor Kemp and become law.
Lawmakers revive much of Georgia elections bill on last day of session
AJC (by Mark Niesse)
Georgia legislators restored key pieces of an elections bill Monday morning, expanding GBI fraud enforcement and unsealing paper ballots for public inspection. The House Election Integrity Committee voted along party lines to advance the bill on the last day of this year’s legislative session, the latest changes to election laws sought by the General Assembly’s Republican majority. The new 11-page bill gives the GBI authority to investigate potential infractions if they could have put the outcome of an election in doubt. It also allows the public to review ballots for themselves at county courthouses after elections are certified. The legislation, Senate Bill 89, arrived after a state Senate panel had removed every controversial elections proposal from a different bill last week, leaving only a provision requiring companies to give workers up to two hours off to vote either during early voting or on election day. The time-off allowance is also part of SB 89.
Gov. Kemp to sign Georgia’s mental health bill Monday
AJC (by Maya T. Prabhu)
Less than a week after the General Assembly approved the legislation, Gov. Brian Kemp is set to sign a bill that aims to increase access to mental health and substance abuse care. After weeks of meetings, revisions and compromises, the Legislature on Wednesday unanimously approved House Bill 1013. Under the new law, set to go into effect July 1, the state would enforce a federal law that requires “parity” in health coverage, forgive student loans for mental health providers who work in underserved areas of the state and take other steps to improve care. The issue was a priority of House Speaker David Ralston, a Blue Ridge Republican, saying it one of the most important bills lawmakers would vote on in their careers.
Georgia Gov. Kemp set to sign gun law allowing people to carry without a license
Georgia Recorder (by Stanley Dunlap)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp plans to sign a bill into law to end the requirement to obtain a permit to carry a handgun in public. Republican lawmakers from both chambers have approved the Constitutional Carry Act, with the Senate giving it final passage Friday by a vote of 34-22. After the vote, Kemp tweeted he looked forward to signing the legislation that he pledged his support for during his gubernatorial campaign in 2018. Supporters of the measure say Senate Bill 319 reinforces the constitutional right to keep and bear arms and to protect family and property. Critics charge that it removes another level of background checks that annually catches thousands of people who should not own firearms.
Georgia House, Senate agree to budget for coming year with teacher raises
AJC (by James Salzer)
Georgia House and Senate budget writers agreed Monday on a $30.2 billion state spending plan for the coming year that includes a $2,000 pay raise for teachers and continues attempts to slow state government turnover. The budget for fiscal 2023, which begins July 1, builds on the record midyear spending plan that Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law last month. The midyear budget, which runs through June 30, includes $2,000 bonuses for teachers and school workers, and $5,000 cost-of-living raises for most state and university employees. The budget for the upcoming year turns the teacher bonus into a raise — meaning it would be built into their future years’ salary — and continue to fund the state employee increases. Some staffers in areas with hard-to-fill jobs, including corrections and mental health agencies, would receive bigger raises.
The Jolt: See Sonny Perdue’s resume for his new $524,000 job as chancellor
AJC (by Patricia Murphy, Greg Bluestein, & Tia Mitchell)
Sonny Perdue officially takes over as the Chancellor of the University System of Georgia today, starting the $524,000-per-year job after a contentious, year-long effort by Gov. Brian Kemp to position him to get it. Perdue has been mostly mum about what he plans to do in the powerful post overseeing the state of Georgia’s colleges and universities, or even why he sought it at all. We found part of the answer yesterday when Perdue’s job application and resume for the job were posted publicly, the results of an open records request from self-described “citizen journalist” Brian Bannon and first spotted by Abraham Kenmore of the Augusta Chronicle. In Perdue’s cover letter to become the chancellor, he wrote that applying for the role was not his idea in the first place.
Greene sues to stop challenge to her reelection eligibility
AP News (by Kate Brumback)
U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene filed a lawsuit Friday challenging a state law that a group of voters is using to challenge her eligibility to run for reelection. The challenge filed last month with the Georgia secretary of state’s office alleges that Greene, a Republican, helped facilitate the Jan. 6, 2021, riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. That violates a provision of the 14th Amendment and makes her ineligible to run for reelection, the challenge says. Greene’s lawsuit asks a judge to declare that the law that the voters are using to challenge her eligibility is itself unconstitutional and to prohibit state officials from enforcing it. rarely cited part of the 14th Amendment says no one can serve in Congress “who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress . . . to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same.” Ratified shortly after the Civil War, it was meant in part to keep representatives who had fought for the Confederacy from returning to Congress.
Atlanta Fed report
WABE (by Jim Burress)
Month after month, housing prices in metro Atlanta continue to climb at rates we’ve never seen before. And a recent affordability report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta shows the effect those increases have on our ability to buy a house. The Home Ownership Affordability Monitor (HOAM) Index is an interactive tool that measures the ability of a typical wage-earning household to afford the typical house in any given market. It uses the HUD standard for affordability — generally accepted to be 30% of a household’s pre-tax income. Anything more is considered unaffordable. Domonic Purviance is a subject matter expert at the Atlanta Fed. He studies residential real estate markets, looking for vulnerabilities. He told WABE that Atlanta and Nashville are some of the U.S. cities in the Atlanta Fed’s region that saw the steepest increases. “This is the first time in the history of our index the share of income needed to afford the median-price house jumped above 30%,” Purviance said. “Whenever it’s above 30%, that means the market is unaffordable.”
Georgia Legislature approves Juneteenth holiday for state employees
AJC (by Maya T. Prabhu)
Month after month, housing prices in metro Atlanta continue to climb at The Georgia Senate on Friday gave final approval to a bill that makes Juneteenth a paid day off for Georgia employees.Even though Gov. Brian Kemp placed the day on the calendar of state holidays in December, the Legislature had to approve House Bill 1335. With its passage, and Kemp’s expected signature, the governor is allowed to expand the number of paid state holidays observed by Georgia employees from 12 to 13. The bill updates state law to stay in line with the federal government, which designated Juneteenth as a holiday last year. HB 1335, sponsored by retiring state Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, passed the Senate 49-1. State Sen. Carden Summers, R-Cordele, was the only senator to vote against the measure.
South Carolina defeats UConn to win the NCAA women’s basketball title
CNN (by Eric Levenson & Amir Vera)
The South Carolina Gamecocks won their second national championship in five years Sunday after defeating the Connecticut Huskies 64-49. The name of the game Sunday was defense and offensive rebounds for the Gamecocks, who controlled the game from the start with a 13-2 lead in just the first six minutes of the game. It was the fewest points the Huskies had scored in a quarter this season. The Gamecocks outrebounded the Huskies 49-24 in the win. The Huskies went on two runs — a 9-0 run in the second quarter and a 10-0 one in the third — but the Gamecocks kept the lead the entire game. South Carolina guard Destanni Henderson and forward Aliyah Boston were the stars of Sunday’s game. Henderson ended the game with 26 points and Boston with 11. “I’ve been thinking about it since last season, everyone had a picture of me crying. But today we’re national champions and I’m in tears,” Boston said, referring to last year’s Final Four loss to Stanford. NOTE: I was rooting so hard for South Carolina! Well deserved! 🏆
Democrats are expected to advance SCOTUS nominee Ketanji Jackson Brown to floor vote
NPR (by Eric McDaniel)
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Monday to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, bringing President Biden’s nominee a step closer to a confirmation vote before the full Senate. No Republicans on the committee are expected to vote to advance Jackson’s nomination, writing in a statement during her confirmation hearings that Jackson’s record “shows regular misuse of judicial authority to impose liberal preferences instead of what the law demands.” The committee is made up of 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans but Jackson’s confirmation would advance to the full Senate even with an 11-11 deadlock. Democrats on the committee cite Jackson’s judgment as reason for their support, writing that her “credentials, experience, and evenhanded approach to the administration of justice make her an outstanding nominee to the Supreme Court.” Republicans may throw up procedural hurdles before the full chamber votes, but they do not have the votes to block Jackson’s confirmation, which would then lead to her becoming the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the country.
Texas is quietly using redistricting lawsuits to launch a broader war against federal voting rights law
The Texas Tribune (by Alexa Ura)
Beyond the immediate legal fight over whether Texas lawmakers again discriminated against voters of color when drawing new political districts, a quieter war is being waged that could dramatically constrict voting rights protections nationwide for years to come. For decades, redistricting in Texas has tracked a familiar rhythm — new maps are followed by claims of discrimination and lawsuits asking federal courts to step in. Over the years, Texas lawmakers have repeatedly been ordered to correct gerrymandering that suppressed the political power of Black and Hispanic voters. The pathway to federal court has been through the Voting Rights Act. Key portions of the landmark law have been weakened in the last decade, but Texans of color still find a way to file lawsuits under its Section 2, which prohibits discriminatory voting procedures and practices that deny voters of color an equal opportunity to participate in elections.
What we know so far about the deadliest mass shooting in Sacramento history
NPR (by Dustin Jones & Bill Chappell)
One day after six people died in a mass shooting in downtown Sacramento, Calif., there is very little detail on what happened. At least 12 people were hospitalized after the shooting early Sunday morning. No one is in custody, the police say, as they seek the shooters. Here’s what we know so far[…] Police are asking the public to help them find anyone who played a part in the shocking crime. Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester told journalists Sunday evening that investigators have already received multiple tips and videos from the public, saying, “We are deeply grateful for that.” Footage of the violence was also captured by a police camera at an intersection near the shootings, she said. The chief also said police recovered a stolen handgun from the scene.
Democrats are expected to advance SCOTUS nominee Ketanji arah Palin running for Congress in Alaska
Salon (by David Badash)
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has just thrown her hat into the ring to fill the seat and shoes of the late U.S. Congressman Don Young (R-AK) who died in March. Palin “vows to fight against the left’s ‘socialist, big-government, America last agenda,’” her announcement reads. “Public service is a calling, and I would be honored to represent the men and women of Alaska in Congress just as Rep. Young did for 49 years,” Palin’s statement, issued Friday evening, says. “I realize that I have very big shoes to fill, and I plan to honor Rep. Young’s legacy by offering myself up in the name of service to the state he loved and fought for, because I share that passion for Alaska and the United States of America.” Her campaign website is already set up to accept donations, which include the highly-criticized opt-out automatic recurring donations the Trump campaign used and was forced to refund millions of dollars from. It offers no policies or promises, just the ability to donate money “immediately.
Ukrainian Museums Are Racing to Save Artifacts That Tell the Country’s Story
Time (by Olivia B. Waxman)
The National Museum of Lviv in western Ukraine, one of the country’s biggest museums, was able to keep its collection intact through two world wars. And yet, over the last month, since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, the museum has had to quickly dismantle its exhibitions. “For the first time since the museum was founded in 1905, all exhibition rooms are empty—all museum items are wrapped, packed and are hidden,” Ihor Kozhan, museum’s director, tells TIME over Zoom. “When you talk, you hear echoes reverberating in the empty rooms. It hurts. It’s very sad.” And the National Museum is not alone. During these weeks of Russian war against Ukraine, museums and archives across the country have been scrambling to protect artifacts and documents that represent Ukrainian history. They’ve done everything from evacuating works of art over the border to hiding objects in safe storage.
We saw what happened in Bucha’: Biden calls for Putin to face war crimes trial after mass graves found. Live Ukraine updates.
USA Today (by Celina Tebor & Ryan W. Miller)
President Joe Biden on Monday called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and more sanctions against Russia following new reports of atrocities in Ukraine after Russian troops retreated from areas around Kyiv. “We saw what happened in Bucha. He is a war criminal,” Biden told reporters when returning to the White House from Delaware, adding the Russian leader is “brutal.” Biden joined a growing chorus of world leaders on Monday who condemned Russia after Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in Kyiv-area towns that were recently retaken from Russian forces. In Bucha, 280 people were buried in mass graves, according to Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Associated Press reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around the city.
Hungary’s hard-line leader declares victory in election as war rages in neighboring Ukraine
NBC News (by Lauren Egan)
Viktor Orbán claimed victory in Hungary’s general election on Sunday, as his Fidesz party appears on track to deliver the prime minister a fourth consecutive term amid a raging war in neighboring Ukraine. “We won a victory so big that you can see it from the moon, and you can certainly see it from Brussels,” Orbán said in a speech in front of the Danube river on election night. “The whole world has seen tonight in Budapest that Christian democratic politics, conservative civic politics and patriotic politics have won.” With 75 percent of votes tallied, Orbán’s Fidesz-led coalition had won 54 percent while the opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had 34 percent, according to the National Election Office. A victory would allow Orbán to continue to be a thorn in the European Union and NATO alliances during a time of international crisis, as he attempts to balance Hungary’s Western partnerships with his close personal and economic relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And it would give Orbán another four-year term to continue chipping away at Hungary’s democratic norms.
See you next Monday for your round up of news!