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Greetings, Georgia.

It's Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

See below for our coverage of Gov. Brian Kemp's State of the State address and the Democratic response from state Sen. Elena Parent, chairperson for the Georgia Senate Democratic Caucus.

A Georgia researcher says inflation is causing businesses to automate jobs done by people. Watch what he told GPB's Peter Biello on All Things Considered.

Also, more states are moving to specialized managed-care contracts to handle medical and behavioral services for foster kids. But child advocates and some state officials say the contracts shortchange kids’ health needs.

This is Georgia Today.



Kemp ushers in 'a new era' for Georgia in State of the State address; Democrats respond

On Jan. 26, 2023, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (left) delivers the State of the State address; state Sen. Elena Parent (right) delivers the Democratic response.

Gov. Brian Kemp used his annual state of the state address to tout Georgia's economic growth and to call for investments in priorities like education, housing and boosting pay for teachers and state employees — a "new era" in state government.

In his roughly 30-minute speech Wednesday, the governor said the state of the state has "never been stronger and more resilient" since first taking office in 2019.

  • "Over the last four years, our greatest achievements were accomplished when both chambers worked hand-in-hand with my office to put the people of our state first — ahead of the status quo," he said. "Our future as a state relies on that partnership: to do the right thing for our citizens, even when it may not be easy." 

Kemp's address painted this year's legislative session as one of great consequence, as lawmakers begin work on his $32.5 billion budget plan that would partially return a multi-billion dollar surplus to taxpayers through refunds and a one-time additional homestead exemption.

Sen. Elena Parent (D-Decatur), delivering the official response to the governor's message, said her party agreed with him that Georgia's best days are ahead, but it is not a foregone conclusion without changes to the budget.

Parent echoed Kemp's concern about a shortage of health care workers and staff in government agencies, and argued that Georgia needed to pass living wage legislation and significantly boost pay for those who work for the state.

  • "Democrats propose a $10,000 increase for teachers and law enforcement, plus the establishment of regular increases moving forward," she said.
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Lawmakers: Democrats file legislation to expand abortion on Day 6

Supporters of SB 15 stand on the steps at the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 24. (Phil Proctor)

Georgia Democrats filed a new bill that would expand abortion access in Georgia.   

Senate Bill 15, sponsored by Sen. Sally Harrell (D - Atlanta), would repeal Georgia’s abortion ban and further expand abortion access. 

The abortion ban, House Bill 481, was passed in 2019. The law bars nearly all abortions when “fetal cardiac activity” is detected — usually around six weeks of pregnancy. When the ban took effect in July after Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion care providers scrambled to accommodate patients and had to turn many away. 

  • The proposed law, named the "Reproductive Freedom Act," outlines abortion access as a "fundamental right." It explicitly bans law enforcement agencies from arresting an individual for getting or performing an abortion, as long as the procedure otherwise follows medical law.
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(Capitol Beat)


Lonnie Holley's new song features R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe

LISTEN: Lonnie Holley's "Oh Me, Oh My" (feat. Michael Stipe)

Atlanta-based visual artist, musician and performer Lonnie Holley has a new album on the way and NPR recently premiered the track “Oh Me, Oh My” featuring R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe.

Reporter Joshua Minsoo Kim said the song’s “graceful piano chords and atmospheric synth pads channel a spiritual aura” are “a call to be patient with others — something that's symbolized by how [Stipe] intertwines his voice with Holley's.”

Holley is also featured in Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children, a new investigative podcast which chronicles the troubling history of Mt. Meigs, an institution to which Holley, 72, was sent at age 11. Today, Holley’s art is displayed in Atlanta’s High Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and others.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis watches proceedings during a hearing to decide if the final report by a special grand jury looking into possible interference in the 2020 presidential election can be released Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Tune into GPB Radio and at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. for Political Rewind.

Today's guests: State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, Amy Steigerwalt, Leo Smith and Kevin Riley.

Tomorrow: a special show on antisemitism in Georgia with state Rep. Esther Panitch.

Check out our Political Rewind podcast:

Listen to the latest Political Rewind podcast to hear Andra Gillespie from Emory University talk on the difference between the Fulton County probe and the January 6th committee, and more.
Listen to the latest edition of the Georgia Today podcast.

NPR's Tiny Desk Seeks Big Talent

Got a big dream of playing NPR's Tiny Desk concerts? 

Send us a video of you playing one song behind a desk of your choosing. If you win, you'll get to play your very own Tiny Desk concert and go on tour with NPR Music.

Are you eligible?

Only eligible entries can win the contest. Does your entry have what it takes? We’ve got a quick and easy way to help you find out!

Entries open Feb. 7, 2023!
Click here for rules, FAQs and more information on how to submit your video.

Georgia Today is written by Sarah Rose and Kristi York Wooten and edited by Khari Sampson.
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