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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.

Tuition and fees to increase at Georgia’s public universities starting fall 2024

Students attending Georgia public colleges will face a tuition increase starting fall 2024, with in-state students paying 2.5% more and out-of-state students seeing a 5% hike, alongside the introduction of a higher tuition rate for international students. These changes, approved by the Board of Regents, reflect efforts to manage rising operational costs across the University System of Georgia amidst ongoing economic inflation.

Georgians poised to secure incremental gains in mental health treatment options in 2024

In Georgia, recent legislative efforts have expanded mental health initiatives, including passing several smaller bills that build on previous reforms and incorporating new funding for the behavioral health crisis system. These changes come after setbacks in prior sessions, reflecting a growing bipartisan commitment to enhancing mental health services despite some contentious political maneuvers.

State utility regulators approve Georgia Power plan to use fossil fuels to power data centers

In a decisive 4-1 vote, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved Georgia Power’s controversial plans to expand energy generation through a mix of fossil fuels and renewable sources, amid criticisms for not prioritizing cleaner energy options. The plan involves constructing natural gas and oil generators and solar battery facilities to cater to rising industrial demands, despite warnings about the long-term environmental and economic impacts of relying on volatile fossil fuel prices.

Georgia child welfare agency defensive after Ossoff Senate panel reports neglect and exploitation

The Georgia Division of Family and Children Services is critiqued in a U.S. Senate report for not adequately protecting children from abuse, contributing to child deaths and injuries through mismanagement. Senator Jon Ossoff emphasizes the need to protect the most vulnerable children from abuse and human trafficking, highlighting the serious and distressing findings of the investigation.

Georgia to strengthen property owners’ rights against squatters

Georgia lawmakers have passed the Squatters Reform Act, aiming to shift the legal treatment of illegal occupancy from a civil to a criminal matter, enabling property owners to more swiftly remove unauthorized occupants. The legislation, which awaits Governor Brian Kemp’s signature, mandates squatters to produce valid occupancy documentation within three days or face criminal trespass charges, streamlining the process for property owners to reclaim their rights.

Bookman: Eastman’s law license suspension suggests peril for Trump, allies in Georgia RICO case

After a lengthy trial, a California state bar judge found that John Eastman “conspired with President Trump to obstruct a lawful function of the government of the United States” by aiming to disrupt the electoral count on January 6, 2021, leading to Eastman’s law license suspension with a recommendation for permanency. In her ruling, Judge Yvonne Roland highlighted Eastman’s submission of false filings related to the 2020 election in Georgia, undermining the legitimacy of millions of votes and engaging in actions deemed beyond the protection of the First Amendment and professional responsibilities around honesty.