With the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrats on Sunday delivered a major victory for President Joe Biden’s agenda, as the U.S. Senate approved a health care, tax, and climate change package that had been stalled for over a year. The vote was 51-50. “I’m thrilled we were finally able to pass this historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our country’s future,” said Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock. The bill allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices with drug makers, requires big corporations to pay a minimum 15% tax on profits, extends subsidies under the Affordable Care Act for another two years, and includes a series of tax incentives to help with climate change. “Thank you, Georgia — you made this possible,” Warnock said, another reminder that the Biden agenda would have gone nowhere if not for the Senate runoff victories by Warnock and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff in January 2021. Both Warnock and Ossoff joined with all other Democrats to ward off a series of Republican amendments, as the Senate stayed in session for over 27 straight hours to approve a cornerstone of the Biden agenda.“I ran for President promising to make government work for working families again, and that is what this bill does,” Biden said.
Georgia U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Lithonia and Lucy McBath of Marietta were among more than 100 Democratic members of Congress who signed on to a letter urging President Joe Biden to extend a pause on federal student loan repayments beyond the end of this month. Biden already postponed the repayments once before they were scheduled to expire in April.
The first U.S. Capitol riot defendant convicted at trial received a seven-year sentence Monday — the longest punishment yet handed down for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress — after prosecutors asked a judge for a 15-year-prison term. The request for Guy Reffitt is roughly one-third longer than the nine to 11 years recommended under advisory federal guidelines.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is challenging a subpoena to testify before a special grand jury investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and others broke laws when they tried to overturn Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, received a subpoena that was issued July 26 and ordered him to appear before the special grand jury to testify on Aug. 23. Graham is seeking to have the challenge to the subpoena heard in federal court in Atlanta rather than before the Fulton County Superior Court judge who’s overseeing the special grand jury. The senator is one of the Trump allies who Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to question as part of her investigation into what she alleges was “a multistate, coordinated plan by the Trump Campaign to influence the results of the November 2020 election.” Graham had said he would fight the subpoena. He denies meddling in Georgia’s election. In a court filing last month, Willis, a Democrat, wrote that Graham made at least two telephone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff in the weeks after Trump’s loss to Biden, asking about reexamining certain absentee ballots “to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome” for Trump.
The three men convicted of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder will face a federal judge Monday to learn their sentences in the hate crimes case over the 25-year-old’s slaying. Travis McMichael, his father Greg, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan were already sentenced to life in prison earlier this year in the state murder case. Only Bryan, 52, was given the possibility of parole. All three men were convicted again in February following a high-profile hate crimes trial in which federal prosecutors successfully argued the men targeted Arbery because of his race as he ran through their neighborhood just outside the city of Brunswick.
A Texas jury on Friday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, adding to the $4.1 million he has to pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax. The total — $49.3 million — is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. But the trial marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the massacre, claiming it was orchestrated by the government to tighten gun laws.
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Thomas Patrick Connally Jr., 56, to more than three years in prison for sending threatening emails to Anthony Fauci, including one in which he said the immunologist and his family would be beaten to death and set on fire, prosecutors said.
Republicans on Friday unanimously chose Milwaukee in swing state Wisconsin for the 2024 national convention. The decision was anti-climactic after Nashville essentially took itself out of the running when the City Council on Tuesday rejected a draft agreement for hosting the event.
Gov. Brian Kemp once again extended the suspension of the state sales tax on motor fuel, this time until Sept. 12. This past week, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. was $4.19, according to AAA. In Georgia, it was $3.74, down from $4.33 a month earlier. The General Assembly voted in March to suspend the tax of 29.1 cents per gallon of gasoline through the end of May. Kemp, who is up for reelection, has issued executive orders each month since then to continue the pause on the tax, garnering new headlines every time. The extensions cost the state roughly $150 million a month in tax revenue that’s used to pay for transportation projects, such as road construction and bridge maintenance. Kemp’s office has tapped the state’s surplus to fill the gap in funding. Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is running against Kemp, has called on the governor to go further by suspending the tax through the end of the year. Meanwhile, gas prices have been dropping in recent weeks, although some economists are concerned that could change.
Georgia broke a record yet again in direct spending from TV and film producers in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, hitting $4.4 billion, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Companies ranging from Netflix to Amazon took advantage of the state’s very generous tax credit program, which dates back to 2008. Some of the big productions that were in production during the fiscal year included “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Creed 2,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” “Ozark” and “Cobra Kai.”
Tyler Perry is a man who believes in honoring those who paved the road before him and sometimes goes even beyond that. When he had the chance to work with legendary actress Cicely Tyson for a single day in 2007 for his film “Why Did I Get Married,” he knew she had been under-compensated for much of her career’s work. So he paid her a whopping $1 million. “This woman had done so many amazing things, but she wasn’t well compensated for it,” Perry told AARP magazine in its latest August/September cover story. “She made $6,000 for ‘Sounder,’ you know? I wanted to make sure she knew that there were people who valued her.” He said he took care of her financially for the final 15 years of her life. “She was a proud woman, and the only reason I mention this is because she wrote it in her book,” he said. “It makes me feel great that I was in a position to give this incredible woman some security in her latter years.” Tyson, who died last year at age 97, was 83 at the time she worked with Perry. She was 48 when she received an Oscar nomination for her role in the 1972 film “Sounder,” a film about a strong Black family. She also appeared in other Perry productions including “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” in 2005 and “A Fall From Grace” in 2020. Perry, who has a new Netflix film “A Jazzman’s Blues” debuting next month, also named one of his 12 soundstages at Tyler Perry Studios when it opened in 2019 after Tyson. (The 11 others are named after Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, and Diahann Carroll.)
Days after the release of her album “Renaissance,” Beyoncé will modify the lyrics of one of its songs, a representative for the singer said in response to an outcry from disability rights advocates who say she should not have used the word, “spaz,” that has historically been employed as a derogatory slur.
Elon Musk accused Twitter of fraud in a countersuit over his aborted $44 billion deal for the social media company, which he claimed held back necessary information and misled his team about the true size of its user base. The countersuit by the billionaire and Tesla CEO alleges that Twitter committed fraud, breach of contract, and violation of a securities law in Texas, where Musk lives. Musk offered to buy Twitter earlier this year, then tried to back out of the deal by claiming the social platform was infested with larger numbers of “spam bots” and fake accounts than Twitter had disclosed.
An NCAA delegation visited Atlanta on Wednesday and Thursday, part of the process to determine whether — or when — the city will reclaim an event it lost to the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago: college basketball’s Final Four. The four-member delegation toured Mercedes-Benz Stadium and other facilities and met with the local bid group that is seeking to bring the booked-long-in-advance men’s Final Four here in 2029 or 2031.
Warner Bros. has scrapped plans to release a nearly finished “Batgirl” movie that was planned for the streaming service HBO Max, according to two people familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly. The Burbank movie studio had finished shooting the DC superhero spinoff, which cost an estimated $90 million to make. The movie was in postproduction. But the project fell short of what the company wanted for its key comic book franchise and no longer fit with the studio’s film strategy, the sources said.
Cobb County’s elections office moved into its new digs this month at the former Mansour Center on Roswell Street. The 60,000-square-foot facility, which replaces the former Whitlock Avenue office, brings all of the office’s operations under one roof. That includes early voting locations, ballot processing, and a sprawling warehouse for hundreds of the county’s voting machines. While early voting was conducted at the Whitlock office, ballots were typically counted at Jim Miller Park. Voting machines, meanwhile, were housed at a Kennesaw warehouse.
Three Cobb County bus transfer stations were included on a list of projects the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL) is considering submitting to the state for additional funding. The projected cost of each project and the ATL’s requests are as follows:
♦ Cumberland: $50 million project, $48 million request
♦ Marietta: $65 million project, $45 million request
♦ South Cobb: $35 million project, $34.5 million request
Fiscal 2022 was a hard year for the Teachers Retirement System, the pension program for 400,000 public educators and retirees in Georgia. This spring’s steep decline in the stock market was met by a $15 billion plunge in the system’s assets to about $87 billion. That followed a booming fiscal 2021, the best year for the TRS since 1986 when assets climbed from $81.2 billion to $102.2 billion. Buster Evans, executive director of the pension system, said gains since the fiscal year ended June 30 had brought the TRS’ assets back up 5.45% as of this past week. At the end of fiscal 2022, almost 130,000 retirees were receiving an average of about $42,000 a year in pension benefits.
The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted to decriminalize marijuana, setting a fine for possession under an ounce at $35. A dozen other communities in Georgia have similar ordinances.
August is National Wellness Month, so use the month to focus on self-care, managing stress, and promoting healthy routines. Create wholesome habits in your lifestyle all month long and see how much better you feel.
Have a wonderful week….