Friday Facts: March 29, 2024

The legislative session came to a ceremonious close this week, as Sine Die marked its 40th and final day. A three-month-long confluence of legislators, interests, lobbyists and public policy experts can be taxing for even the most hardened veterans of Georgia politics. 

With the janitors having only just finished cleaning the chamber floors and most lawmakers headed home – some retiring from public service, others facing re-election campaigns – the Foundation offers this review of how some of its biggest policy issues fared in 2024. 

The story of this year’s session is ultimately one of tangible, if incremental, progress. Tens of thousands of Georgia students will now have new educational options. Some certificate of need regulations, including those for birth centers, have been reformed. And workers at any company that receives certain taxpayer incentives will have the right to a secret ballot election for union representation.

We hope you will check out this week’s commentary on the progress of the 2024 session. We also have the latest news and analysis from the last week, including:

  • Georgia Power, PSC reach agreement on request for more generating capacity
  • VA Regional Office renamed for Johnny Isakson
  • Columbus is offering you $5,000 to move there
  • Developers of The Gathering at South Forsyth unhappy with last-minute changes by commissioners 

Have a great weekend,

– Kyle Wingfield

Friday’s Freshest

The Georgia model for putting workers’ rights ahead of union demands

Georgia is going in the opposite direction of the Biden Administration, putting workers’ rights ahead of union demands. The General Assembly enacted a law that would guarantee secret-ballot elections at automakers and parts manufacturers. The Peach State’s reform should spread nationwide.

Georgia students now have a Promise

At long last, Georgia’s students have a Promise. The state Senate this past week sent the Promise Scholarship Act to Gov. Brian Kemp, days after their colleagues in the House approved a modified version of the bill. A brighter future awaits thousands of students who currently lack access to an education that meets their needs. But given that this success took 10 years to realize, one last look back is in order.

Existing service providers are always the loudest voices against change

It’s striking how much our debates over two of Georgia’s most important structural challenges are really the same argument with different jargon. I’m talking about school choice and certificate of need. Ultimately, both come down to whether one believes the elements that have sparked such dynamism and vibrancy in other sectors can also apply to education and healthcare.

Officials at yet another school district in Georgia can’t do basic arithmetic

How did the Hancock County Board of Education misspend more than $40,000 from the Child Nutrition Cluster program?

The Latest


Columbus aims to attract remote workers with $5,000 relocation package

The City of Columbus is offering 10 potential residents the opportunity to receive $5,000 for relocation to Georgia’s second-largest city. The Make My Move initiative is a privately funded talent attrition program created to assist in population and infrastructure growth. It has garnered buzz among Georgians and online users across the country and, according to city officials, a marked increase in applications.

Georgia Ports Authority poised to absorb extra cargo post-Baltimore crisis

The Georgia Ports Authority, which owns ports in Savannah and Brunswick, said it has capacity to take on more cargo following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. The state of Maryland says the port moved 847,158 automobiles last year. The port also handles a large amount of wood, steel, aluminum, home appliances, furniture, sugar and liquefied natural gas. 

Developer of The Gathering says he is ‘extremely disappointed’ over last-minute changes by county commissioners

Less than a day after the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a binding Memorandum of Understanding between the county and the developers of a multi-billion dollar proposed entertainment hub, there are now some questions about whether it will move forward. Developers of The Gathering at South Forsyth said they are “re-evaluating” the project based on last-minute changes that were made by the county commissioners

Centennial Yards development enters second phase

Work is underway to transform downtown Atlanta into a world-class entertainment district and thriving community. Brian McGowan is president of the Centennial Yards development near Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a vacant piece of property often referred to as the Gulch. On Monday, he filed permits to begin construction on phase II of a 50-acre revitalization project that will encompass over half a million square feet of retail, restaurant, and hotel space.


Gwinnett Schools seeking waivers for class sizes

Gwinnett County Public Schools officials are asking state leaders for “strategic waivers” to exempt the district from state-mandated class size limits and more than a dozen other rules. GCPS’ current waivers contract with the Georgia Department of Education is set to expire this year, and the district is working on a new contract that would continue through the summer of 2030. 

Georgia State University to discontinue its Prison Education Project

Georgia State University is ending its Prison Education Project because of budget cuts. The program has GSU professors teaching college courses inside some Georgia prisons. The program allows inmates to take college courses from GSU professors while being incarcerated. Some, including a group of nine at Walker State Prison last year, have even earned an associate’s degree while incarcerated.  

High-paying jobs in Athens among potential benefits for new UGA medical school

It may be a bit premature to accurately assess the economic impact of a new medical school at the University of Georgia, a project approved in February by the University System Board of Regents. However, the 14-year presence of the Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership in Athens provides some strong clues of a decidedly positive effect on the local economy.

Twiggs County Public Schools reveals new wellness center

Twiggs County Public Schools now has its first-ever wellness center. The school district built it from the ground up and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to reveal it to the public. It will offer services like behavioral, dental and medical care, all to improve the health and wellness of the students and their families.

Government accountability

Georgia Power, PSC reach agreement on request for more generating capacity

Georgia Power and state energy regulators have agreed on a plan to increase the Atlanta-based utility’s electrical generating capacity, including the construction of three new gas combustion turbines at Plant Yates near Newnan. According to company officials, the revenue that new capacity would produce would more than offset the costs to generate the additional power.

Cobb County stormwater fee vote delayed amid deluge of opposition

The Cobb Board of Commissioners seemed poised to approve a countywide stormwater fee before a room packed with more than 100 residents Tuesday evening. That is, until Commissioner Jerica Richardson, whose district was battered by flash flooding in September 2021, expressed hesitancy to support the fee Tuesday evening after nearly four hours of public comment, interruptions, presentations, discussion – and more interruption.

Fannin County considering revisions to short-term vacation rental ordinance

There could soon be a change to the short-term vacation rentals ordinance in Fannin County that some fear could tank the market if it moves forward. Fannin County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Hensley said the purpose and goal of the ordinance is to appeal to both residents and those wanting to invest in properties in the area. 


4 new MARTA rail stations coming to Atlanta, mayor announces

Atlanta and MARTA officials are planning to build new stations along MARTA’s existing rail lines. Mayor Andre Dickens made the announcement during his annual State of the City address. He talked about how Ponce City Market was a catalyst for the revitalization of its neighborhood, and now the city wants to replicate that success with a redevelopment project called “Murphy Crossing.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation offers community a chance to weigh in on US HWY 80 safety improvements 

Summer and the height of the tourist season is approaching fast. That means Tybee Island will see peak crowds and peak traffic very soon. The Georgia Department of Transportation is proposing a new plan to reduce congestion ahead of that peak. One of the biggest changes in the plan is that there would no longer be a merge from two lanes to one coming off the island.

Millions in federal dollars flow to Georgia airport projects

The Federal Aviation Administration is sending more than $14.8 million in taxpayer money for airport improvement projects in Georgia. The feds awarded more than $6.9 million to the Georgia State Block Grant Program and $7.2 million to Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.


Nine states plan to ban gas-powered car sales by 2035

Nine states are planning to ban new gasoline-powered vehicle sales by 2035 as part of an initiative to cut climate-warming emissions. The Advanced Clean Cars II rules originated in California with the state Air Resources Board. The regulations in California look to phase out the sale of new gas vehicles beginning with the 2026 model year, scaling back over time until 2035 – when a total ban on the sales will go into effect.

VA Regional Office renamed for Johnny Isakson

The Atlanta Veterans Affairs Regional Office was formally renamed in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson Monday during a ceremony at the building in Decatur. Isakson, who died in 2021, served as chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee from 2015 until he retired from the Senate in 2019.

Why are NBC anchors throwing a tantrum over Ronna McDaniel?

Unlike the network’s cadre of Trump-hating Republican commentators, Ronna McDaniel is actually in a position to educate viewers about Trump’s appeal to a significant share of the electorate. If they don’t like what she’s saying, other on-air personalities can challenge her. That is the whole point of cable news commentary, right?

Quotes of the Week

“Unless there is Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” – Fulton J. Sheen

“The great gift of Easter is hope.” – Basil C. Hume

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

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