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Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

Georgia first lady makes pitch for people struggling to call 988 suicide prevention hotline

First Lady Marty Kemp of Georgia is actively championing the promotion of the new national suicide prevention hotline, 988, aiming to combat the stigma surrounding mental health care. At a recent panel discussion, she emphasized the importance of raising awareness about 988, particularly in light of the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the need to support individuals in crisis.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Though noncitizens can vote in few local elections, GOP goes big to make it illegal

Amidst ongoing debates over election integrity, Republican lawmakers are intensifying efforts to prevent non-U.S. citizens from voting, proposing state constitutional amendments and new laws for stricter citizenship verification at the polls. Critics argue these measures stoke anti-immigration sentiment and baseless fears of widespread voter fraud, merely to energize the GOP base ahead of the upcoming presidential election.

Georgia takes aim at mental health care shortages with new legislation

Georgia is intensifying efforts to tackle its mental health care challenges with new legislation designed to increase the availability of mental health professionals across the state. Representative Sharon Cooper emphasizes the state’s commitment to equalizing access to mental health services, particularly in rural areas, by offering loan repayment incentives to providers working in underserved regions.

Kemp signs bill into law forcing sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a contentious new law on May 1, 2024, mandating that law enforcement agencies notify federal authorities about the arrest of undocumented immigrants, with penalties including loss of state funding and criminal charges for non-compliance. Critics argue the law targets Georgia’s Hispanic community disproportionately and contrasts sharply with previous state efforts towards criminal justice reform.

Georgia governor signs school voucher bill to provide $6,500 toward private tuition

Governor Brian Kemp of Georgia signed multiple education bills, including a controversial voucher program allowing parents to use $6,500 in state funds for private schooling or homeschooling of children from low-performing schools. Critics argue this diverts essential resources from public schools and lacks sufficient oversight, while proponents claim it offers necessary educational choices and opportunities.

Earth Day report card: Georgians battle threats to state’s natural wonders year round

Georgia environmentalists mark Earth Day with both celebrations and concerns, as recent policy decisions threaten to undermine the state’s ecological health. Amid ongoing debates, conservation efforts confront challenges from industrial developments and regulatory policies favoring economic interests over environmental preservation.

Rural counties rely on prisons to provide firefighters who work for free

In rural Georgia, incarcerated individuals trained as firefighters and emergency responders are frequently called upon to tackle various emergencies, a practice that began in 1963 and has expanded significantly over the decades. Despite providing crucial support in under-resourced areas, this program faces criticism for potentially exploiting the incarcerated and impacting the job market for professional firefighters.

Early education researchers give Georgia high marks for lottery-funded pre-K programs

Georgia’s pre-K program ranks ninth in the U.S. for enrollment rates but trails in state spending, reflecting a mixed record on early childhood education priorities. A pending increase in funding could enhance the state’s program, positioning it to meet all recommended quality benchmarks, according to the latest findings by the National Institute for Early Education Research.