Friday Facts: January 5, 2024

For the first time since the 2021 legislative session, the Georgia legislature won’t convene on the constitutionally mandated second Monday in January and rush to gavel out in time for the national championship game — unless there’s a secret cabal of Michigan alums under the Gold Dome pulling the strings. 

2024 is an election year, and every member of the state legislature will be on the ballot. Traditionally, this means a short session as legislators typically wish to adjourn early and begin raising money for their reelection campaigns. A handful of members will also have to introduce themselves to new constituents after the recent special session redrew Congressional and legislative districts.

An atypically early Easter in March this year adds another wrinkle to the calendar and also might influence an early adjournment. But alas the business of the state beckons. Will we see tax cuts? Will educational savings accounts cross the finish line in the House? Is Certificate of Need on its way out? Or will something else steal the attention of lawmakers? 

Let us know your thoughts on what issues you want to see lawmakers tackle and please check out our 2024 legislative preview in this week’s commentary. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • Georgia education leaders are trying to hide data from parents
  • State income tax rate dropped from 5.75% to 5.49% on January 1
  • Georgia’s population hit 11 million last year as it continues to be one of the fastest growing states in the country
  • Federal judge upholds newly drawn Congressional and legislative maps

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

What is the Georgia Department of Education trying to hide from parents?

When the Georgia Department of Education released the 2023 data by school for the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) a few weeks ago, it omitted the “single score” that has been a feature of this reporting for more than a decade. Instead, parents must grapple with four CCRPI components (five for high schools) for their children’s schools. What matters most? The Georgia DOE won’t tell you. 

Clarity in the need to repeal Certificate of Need laws

Clarity is evident in the final report of the Georgia Senate’s Study Committee on Certificate of Need Reform, chaired by Sen. Greg Dolezal, R-Cumming. The directive is short and sweet: “the Study Committee recommends that Georgia’s CON laws should be repealed in their entirety.”

Georgia and Alabama reach agreement in ‘Water Wars’

Gov. Brian Kemp and his counterpart in Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey, unveiled an agreement to end Alabama’s lawsuit over the Mid- and Lower Chattahoochee River Basin.

What we can learn from tradition

That which stands the test of time is worth considering, if only because it has stood the test of time.

11 biggest stories of 2023

This year, Georgia Public Policy Foundation had our biggest year to date in terms of content produced and consumed. Here is a review of our most read and most shared stories of 2023.

In The News

State income tax cut in effect

A $1 billion tax cut passed in 2022 took effect on New Year’s Day. For now, the phased-in tax cut sets the state income tax rate for 2024 at a flat 5.49%, down from the previous 5.75%. “When you do it broad-based, you’re not giving any favoritism,” said Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. “It takes the politics out of the policy.”

The Latest


Georgia sees its population increase by 1.1% in 2023

Georgia saw its population increase by 1.1% from 2022 to 2023, though new numbers show the rate of its increase trailed that of several neighboring states. Georgia’s population stood at more than 11 million people in 2023, up from 10.9 million in 2022. Census numbers show that the state’s population has grown nearly 3% since 2020.

Rivian plant wins court fight

A Morgan County judge has dismissed a lawsuit aimed at stopping the construction of a $5 billion electric vehicle manufacturing plant near Interstate 20 east of Atlanta. The lawsuit, filed by a group of property owners, charged the state with acquiring the property and then leasing it to Rivian to avoid local zoning laws. Morgan County Superior Court Judge Stephen Bradley ruled that local zoning regulations do not apply to state-owned property.


Scholarships available for Georgia agriculture students

The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture is offering $65,000 in scholarships to Georgia students pursuing a degree in agriculture, veterinary medicine, family and consumer sciences or a related field. All applications must be submitted online by March 1, 2024, with recipients announced later in the spring.

Banner victories in 2023 could extend school choice revolution into 2024

A record number of states enacted universal school choice programs in 2023, and advocates are eyeing opportunities to rack up even more legislative victories in Republican-controlled states in 2024. Fresh off the 2022 midterm elections, GOP lawmakers in numerous states with unified party control made universal school choice a major policy priority.

Government accountability

Raffensperger seeks to end general election runoffs

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has renewed his call for the General Assembly to end general election runoffs in the Peach State. In a statement released before Christmas, Raffensperger said getting rid of runoffs following the November elections would give Georgians a holiday-season pause from politics.

2024 could be the year Georgia lawmakers move on gambling expansion

A state senator is expected to introduce legislation allowing Georgians to decide on a constitutional amendment that would allow casino gambling, sports betting, and pari-mutuel wagering. State Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, said the initiative could bring in $900 million per year to the state.


Bridge over I-75 to ease Kennesaw traffic

Drivers traversing Interstate 75 over Barrett Parkway have likely noticed the bridge coming together over their heads. The 450-foot bridge is part of the South Barrett Reliever in Kennesaw, a three-phase project totaling about $50 million that is aimed at reducing traffic on Barrett Parkway by roughly 20%.

One of Central Georgia’s deadliest roads is getting safer in the new year

The new year is expected to bring big changes for one of Central Georgia’s deadliest roads for pedestrians. Macon-Bibb applied for a grant from the Department of Transportation to “completely retrofit” Gray Highway in an effort to make it safer.


Georgia city trying to lure Mississippi Braves to the Peach State

The city of Columbus has begun efforts to woo the Mississippi Braves, AA affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, to relocate for the 2025 season. Ballpark renovation on Columbus’ Golden Park stadium is being undertaken to lure one of five teams, all owned by Diamond Baseball Holdings, to Columbus.

Americans are canceling more of their streaming services

About one-quarter of U.S. subscribers to major streaming services—a group that includes Apple TV+, Discovery+, Disney+, Hulu, Max, Netflix, Paramount+, Peacock and Starz—have canceled at least three of them over the past two years, according to November data from subscription-analytics provider Antenna.

Federal judge upholds revised Georgia legislative, congressional maps

A federal judge found Georgia lawmakers “fully complied” with his order when they drafted and passed revised congressional and state legislative maps during a recent special session. In a 15-page ruling handed down last week, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said Georgia lawmakers “fully complied with this Court’s order requiring the creation of a majority black congressional district in the region of the state where vote dilution was found.”

Quotes of the Week

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul…” – G.K. Chesterton

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