Friday Facts: June 28, 2024

This week, the Georgia Senate’s Study Committee on Artificial Intelligence convened to discuss the future of AI in Georgia. As AI technology becomes more advanced, and more industries adopt its uses, state legislators are seeking to advance policy that promotes growth and safety. The Committee’s discussion focused on how AI can help to propel Georgia’s continued prosperity as a business-friendly state, while also recognizing its real and potential risks.

Recent technological advances have naturally led to heightened political awareness of AI. Last year, 25 states introduced AI legislation, with 18 adopting resolutions or passing legislation. AI is becoming just as pervasive in policy discussions as it is in our everyday lives.

It might surprise some who have followed AI’s recent developments and applications that that kind of technology has been with us, even to the point of becoming ubiquitous, for years now.

So what should the reaction be from the states or the federal government? In this week’s commentary, we look at the questions many have, policy proposals the General Assembly has already considered and what approach lawmakers might take in the future. We hope you will check that out. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • A number of new laws take effect Monday
  • EU regulations could impact Georgia’s forestry industry
  • Georgia peach farmers are experiencing a bumper crop
  • GHSA warns Georgia high school athletes could risk eligibility by signing NIL deals

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield 

Friday’s Freshest

Reimagining early education

For years, conservatives have dropped the ball on early childhood education policy, almost entirely ceding the playing field to the left. This has led to programs that lack guidance from some important conservative intuitions, like fiscal restraint, the centrality of family and the power of markets. Better alternatives exist. What do they look like?

Addressing the national debt

The most important long-term problem our country faces is the national debt. Our ability to tackle every other problem we face – from our porous southern border, to our many enemies around the world, to our various domestic challenges – hinges on our financial wherewithal. And after decades of pretending we’re fiscally invincible, we’re facing something akin to our fiscal mortality.

Tort reform and Georgia’s judicial nightmare

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. But there are now calls for reform.

Three civil servants and an embattled city auditor made May a month for waste, fraud and abuse

A former Augusta University employee allegedly stole more than $300,000 from the college during a seven-year time span. What exactly did she do? This story, and more, in our monthly recap of waste, fraud and abuse in Georgia. 

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 hospital consolidation, we are continuously trending toward a field of haves and have-nots. The have-nots are typically the remaining independent hospitals in rural communities. 

The Latest


European Union deforestation free regulations and the potential impact on Georgia

In June 2023, the European Union (EU) passed a new law to curb deforestation and forest degradation linked to EU imports and exports. The EU Deforestation-Free Products Regulation (EUDR), effective Dec. 30, 2024, will impose major new hurdles for forest-based product exports from Georgia’s ports.

Georgia peach growers have brought in a bumper crop amid booming production 

It’s a bumper crop like no other. Peach production is booming all over the state and farmers say it has been four years since it has been this good. That’s because a late spring freeze that almost always happens, and kills off 20 to 40% of the crop, did not happen this year.

City approves bond sale to move Centennial Yards project into next phase

The next phase to transform the old Gulch in downtown Atlanta is moving forward. The city’s economic development agency approved the funding for Centennial Yards last week. It comes from the approved sale of roughly $557 million in bonds to support the construction. The Centennial Yards project began nearly six years ago and remains one of the largest projects in Atlanta’s history.


GHSA warns Georgia high school athletes could risk eligibility by signing NIL deals

The Georgia High School Association warned schools that athletes signing up for a certain name, image and likeness company are risking their eligibility if boosters pay them for their online news and content. It’s likely that hundreds of Georgia athletes have registered with NIL Club, which has more than 200,000 college athletes on its platform and opened itself to high school students earlier this month.

Athens task force to unveil workforce development plan, though another already approved

Less than two weeks after the Athens-Clarke County Commission allocated $1.9 million in federal funds to a workforce development initiative spearheaded by the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, a workforce development task force created by the commission and chaired by Commissioners Carol Myers and Tiffany Taylor is getting ready to unveil its own proposal. 

Schools are about a year out from a budgetary cliff

The combination of declining student enrollment and the expiration of federal relief funds will make the spring 2025 budget season particularly painful in many districts across the country after a one-time infusion of ESSER money allowed districts to artificially inflate their staffing levels. To return to pre-pandemic staffing numbers, school districts will need to shed 384,000 jobs.

Government accountability

These new laws are taking effect in Georgia on July 1 

Gov. Brian Kemp signed several bills during the 2024 legislative session, including healthcare and public safety related items. Most Georgia laws go into effect on July 1, even if the bill was changed to amend or update language in the state constitution, unless the bill is stated otherwise. Here is a look at a variety of new laws. 

It’s time to reform environmental litigation

Because of the lengthy approval process and special interests surrounding environmental review, it takes far longer to build anything in the United States than in other developed countries. A 2023 law review article provided empirical data on the impact of litigation against large energy and transportation projects. Overall, 28% faced post-environmental impact statement litigation, with the overall permit process being as long as seven years for energy projects and 10 years for transportation projects. 


Morehouse program is training doulas to serve rural Georgia

The Morehouse School of Medicine’s first cohort of rural doulas, called Perinatal Patient Navigators, recently graduated its first dozen participants, all from Southwest Georgia. They have completed more than five months of training and are slated to begin working with pregnant and postpartum patients this year.

Georgia prisons will soon have a new healthcare provider after contract was brought into question

A Fulton County judge dismissed a case against the state of Georgia this week that put into question the legality of a contract for a new health care provider in the state’s prisons. The Georgia Department of Corrections’ new contract with Centurion Health will go into effect July 1. Centurion will manage physical and mental health care services for roughly 47,000 inmates. 


Shopping malls better adapt to modern times to avoid total death

It wasn’t long ago that shopping malls were the epicenter of America’s towns, with teenagers flocking to hang out at the same place where their mothers could purchase a new blouse. But modern technology, overnight shipping and the COVID pandemic have given many once-thriving retail locations the dreaded “dead mall” moniker — unless they can quickly adapt. 

Georgia House panel poised to take on tricky fishing rights issue

The General Assembly passed legislation this year guaranteeing Georgians the right to fish in the state’s navigable rivers and streams. Now comes what promises to be the trickier question of deciding which rivers and streams are navigable and which are not. A Georgia House study committee will begin tackling that task this summer and make recommendations to the full House – if any – by Dec. 1. 

SCOTUS declines to punish the feds for suppressing social media speech

The Supreme Court will allow federal agencies to resume widespread communication with social media companies for the purposes of suppressing controversial speech. For everyone who was perturbed by the Twitter Files and Facebook Files—which revealed a vast web of government pressure on private actors, called jawboning—this is a regrettable outcome.

Quotes of the Week

“In sum, the officials wielded potent authority. Their communications with Facebook were virtual demands. And Facebook’s quavering responses to those demands show that it felt a strong need to yield.” – Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Justice 

“A Georgia peach, a real Georgia peach, a backyard great-grandmother’s orchard peach, is as thickly furred as a sweater, and so fluent and sweet that once you bite through the flannel, it brings tears to your eyes.” – Melissa Fay Greene

“By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” – Eliezer Yudkowsky

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