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Georgia senators scrap proposal for more election rules

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia senators are scrapping further big changes in state election law. The Senate Ethics Committee took the vote Tuesday after strong opposition from local election officials who said changes would create needless red tape. The only remaining proposal in the bill now would require employers to give workers time off to vote early in a person. That supplements current law requiring time off to vote on election day. The demand by conservatives for more restrictions had followed a 2021 Georgia law that was one of the first Republican measures nationwide passed after Donald Trump claimed without evidence that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

Georgia push on COVID rules aims at vaccines, school masks

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia public school students are now free of mask mandates for five years after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law banning them. And a one-year ban on governments and schools requiring vaccines against COVID-19 is nearing the Republican governor’s desk. The measures are cornerstones of the Georgia version of a nationwide Republican reaction against requirements stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Supporters say parental and individual choice should rule. They also say Georgia should prevent government agencies from requiring so-called vaccine passports for public services. Opponents say the actions promote distrust in science and put the health of others at risk.

Boy, 8, killed when bullets from drive-by shooting hit house

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (AP) — Law officers in Middle Georgia are searching for whoever shot an 8-year-old boy in a drive-by shooting. WMAZ-TV reports that broken broken glass, bullet holes, and a blue shoe remained in Warner Robins as reminders of the Friday shooting of Jermarrion Cherry. He died Monday. Houston County sheriff’s Capt. Jon Holland says that someone fired nearly a dozen shots at a home and one of those bullets hit Jermarrion in the head. Holland says several people were in the car when it drove by. He vowed that authorities are not going to stop looking for them.

Georgia House panel backs referendum to legalize gambling

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia could decide in November whether they want to allow betting on sports and horse racing, as well casino gambling. A state House committee on Monday passed a proposed constitutional amendment, as well as a bill that would legalize sports betting on college and pro sports. The constitutional amendment must pass both the House and Senate with a two-thirds majority. The Senate earlier this year rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have permitted only horse racing. The effort has the backing of Atlanta’s professional sports teams. Republican Rep. Ron Stephens of Savannah says people are already betting on sports and Georgia should join roughly 30 states where it’s legal.

Election officials blast Georgia bill as ‘security theater’

ATLANTA (AP) — Some Georgia county election administrators are blasting proposed changes to state election law as “security theater.” They testified Monday that proposed House Bill 1464 would waste time and money while driving away scarce election workers. The measure, earlier passed by the House, would let the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigate election fraud without an invitation from other officials. It would create extensive new chain-of-custody requirements for handling ballots. Under the bill, only the State Election Board could accept private donations for election administration. It would let people physically inspect paper ballots after an election.

Vietnamese carmaker to build electric vehicles in N Carolina

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A Vietnamese automaker has announced plans to build a plant in North Carolina to manufacture electric vehicles, promising to bring 7,500 jobs. VinFast will build its first North American plant in Chatham County southwest of Raleigh, with production expected to start in 2024. It expects to employ 7,500 by 2027 with average salaries of $51,000. The company is building on a nearly 2,000-acre site that’s about a 30-minute drive southwest of Raleigh and is expected to invest $4 billion in the plant. The state agreed to hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives. Officials say the manufacturer considered sites in 12 states before narrowing its search to North Carolina and a site in Savannah, Georgia.

Georgia Senate seeks smaller tax cut, film tax credit limit

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia senators are proposing a much more modest income tax cut than the $1.1 billion plan passed by the House. At the same time, they are trying to sharply reduce tax breaks for film and television productions that have been credited with transforming the state into one of the world’s biggest filming hubs. The Senate Finance Committee on Monday voted to make major changes in the House proposal. That could set up a showdown on a priority of Republican House Speaker David Ralston with a week left in the 2022 regular session. The Senate proposal also would cap the film tax credit at $900 million annually and ban film companies from selling the tax credits they can’t use to others.

Georgia Senators advance mental health bill with changes

ATLANTA (AP) — A state Senate committee has approved a version of a sweeping bill that aims to improve Georgia’s dismal mental health care system. HB 1013 seeks to ensure that insurers provide the same level of benefits for mental health disorders as they do for physical illness. It would also provide forgivable loans for people who become mental health workers. It was approved nearly unanimously by the state House earlier this month. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Monday approved changes that would send the bill back to the state House for consideration.

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