Friday Facts: June 14, 2024

In 2023, Georgia had the dubious honor of topping the American Tort Reform Association’s list of the country’s “Judicial Hellholes.” This was the second year in a row that Georgia held the No. 1 ranking – although this time it was a split title with Pennsylvania’s courts – due to what the ATRA calls an environment of lawsuit abuse and excessive tort costs.

These concerns have caught the attention of some Georgia lawmakers and Gov. Brian Kemp, and “tort reform” is quickly becoming a more common term in Georgia’s political lexicon. Tort reform takes many specific forms, but it generally refers to reducing the ability of plaintiffs to bring forth liability litigation, or to reduce the amount of damages they can receive.

While liability litigation is not categorically frivolous, the need for tort reform typically highlights cases that are: such as when plaintiffs and their trial attorneys are awarded damages for frivolous or predatory lawsuits. An important takeaway from tort reform efforts is that these kinds of lawsuits have real negative economic consequences for the industries they come across.

In this week’s commentary, we look at why Georgia has received the dubious distinction as a “judicial hellhole,” and what Georgia lawmakers can do to remedy those issues. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • Kemp heads to Korea on a trade mission
  • Why Blaze Pizza is leaving California for Georgia
  • Atlanta considers aid for businesses’ water main break losses
  • Americans still prefer gas-powered vehicles over hybrids or EVs

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

A new approach for maintaining the interstate system is needed

As vacationers hit the road this summer, they probably give scant thought to the condition of the highways they’ll travel. But we can no longer take well-maintained roads for granted. The interstate highway system launched in 1956 and was basically complete by the 1980s. The average life expectancy of such roadways is about 50 years. You can do the math here.

As competition decreases, the cost of healthcare rises

In Georgia, the four largest health systems currently account for 51.6% of hospital beds available statewide. Unfortunately, most of the damage to a competitive landscape might already be done. In this era of consolidation, we are continuously trending towards a field of haves and have-nots. The have-nots are typically the remaining independent hospitals in rural communities. 

Confidence in the justice system needed

Your opinion on the Donald Trump verdict is probably related to the opinion you already had on Donald Trump. But what every American ought to want, regardless of their thoughts on the verdict, is a legal system operating at the highest possible level, with strong public confidence. Because that isn’t the case right now.

Another crack at reforming occupational licensing?

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Speaker Jon Burns recently announced the creation of a joint Blue-Ribbon Committee to look into reported issues with the Secretary of State’s Professional Licensing Boards Division. This task could open the door for necessary reforms that make it easier to work and start a business in Georgia.

How does government policy increase the cost of housing?

If you’ve been following the housing market, you’ve certainly noticed a surge in prices. Much of this increase is not due to market forces, but rather dictated by a complex system of regulatory factors that increase costs. It is just another instance of government over-governing. We break down the various fees and regulations that add more than 25% to the cost of a new home. 

The Latest


Kemp heading to Korea on trade mission

Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp are leading a trade mission to the Republic of Korea. Georgia’s first couple left Tuesday and are returning next week at the head of a delegation that includes several state legislators and representatives of the state Department of Economic Development, Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Ports Authority.

Blaze Pizza leaving California for Georgia

Blaze Pizza is relocating its headquarters from California to Atlanta, a move that will reduce its state corporate tax rate by more than a third. Blaze said its relocation is driven by a desire for its “next wave of growth.” Georgia’s annualized GDP growth was 11.8% for April, while California’s grew at an annualized 3.8% based on the latest data from the end of 2023. 

Some professionals say Georgia’s film industry is on the decline

Georgia’s film industry has started to slow down. The sluggish start to 2024 comes on the heels of last year’s writers’ and actors’ strikes. It’s estimated there are nearly 40% fewer productions in Georgia this year compared to last year.


Louisiana is the latest state to expand school choice

Louisiana became the 11th state to enact a universal education savings account, following Alabama earlier this year. The state senate passed the Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise (GATOR) bill that creates a new K-12 education savings account policy. This GATOR Scholarship program will eventually be open to all school-aged children.  

Building them up: Women inmates at Clarke County Jail learn to become carpenters

Four women incarcerated in the Athens-Clarke County Jail used their time this year to learn carpentry skills. Each of the women this week received a certificate of graduation for a construction course they received through a new program at the jail that was arranged by Sheriff John Q. Williams and Rep. Spencer Frye, D-Athens, executive director of Athens Area Habitat for Humanity.

Albany State to get interim president next month

A former interim president at a historically Black university in Florida will serve as interim president at Albany State University. Lawrence Drake II will succeed current Albany State President Marion Ross Fedrick on July 1, when she leaves to become executive vice president and chief of staff to the president of Georgia State University.

Government accountability

City officials consider $5 million aid for businesses’ water main break losses

By the end of July, Atlanta businesses impacted by the two water main breaks that upended the city for days may see thousands of dollars from the city start to hit their bank accounts, officials said at a City Council committee meeting this week. Mayor Andre Dickens announced last week the city would set up a $5 million fund to help the affected businesses. 

Former Atlanta assistant city attorney sentenced to prison for PPP fraud

A federal judge has sentenced a former assistant Atlanta city attorney to prison following her conviction on charges she fraudulently applied for and received Paycheck Protection Program loans. In December, a jury convicted Shelitha Robertson of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of money laundering and three counts of wire fraud.


Cobb voters to decide on 30-year transit sales tax in November

Cobb commissioners voted along party lines this week to place a long-term transit sales tax referendum on the November general election ballot. The Foundation recently published a detailed overview of the proposed project, outlining what is included, its costs and unanswered questions. 

Review: Fewer Georgia transportation projects cost state more

Georgia Department of Transportation officials previously sounded the alarm that inflation was driving up the cost of projects. A review of GDOT announcements over the first 10 months of the past two fiscal years shows the agency’s board has awarded nearly 21.3% fewer project contracts this fiscal year, but the cost of those has increased by about 16%.


Americans still prefer gas vehicles over hybrid or EVs, study shows

Americans still prefer to buy a standard gas vehicle over a hybrid or an electric vehicle even with the same price and features, a new study shows. Only one-fifth of people surveyed said they would purchase an EV over a gas-powered vehicle or hybrid vehicle. The show of preference comes amid a global slowdown in demand for electric vehicles, resulting in global automakers such as Ford, General Motors  and Mercedes rethinking their EV plans.

May inflation breakdown: Rent continues to rise

Housing costs were once again the biggest driver of inflation last month, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total monthly increase, according to the report. Rent costs rose 0.4% for the month and are up 5.3% from the same time last year. Rising rents are concerning because higher housing costs most directly and acutely affect household budgets.

The Summer Olympics In Paris Will Be BYO-AC Since Paris Dorms Lack Air Condition

The Paris Summer Olympics is all about going green, and one way it plans to do that is by not including air conditioning for dorms in the Olympic Village. Well, according to a report from The Washington Post, a bunch of delegations are about to show up in France with fleets of air conditioning units almost as if to say, “Here’s what we think of your anti-AC stance.” That’s right, the Olympic Games will be BYO-AC this year.

Quotes of the Week

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

“Just once on Father’s Day I wish my kids would give me a #1 Dad mug instead of one with my actual ranking.” – Andy Borowitz

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