Georgia, Other States Settle Smartphone Ad Case with Google, iHeartMedia

Georgia is set to receive nearly $1.2 million following a settlement with Google and iHeartMedia over a series of ads with “allegedly false endorsements” of the Google Pixel 4 smartphone.

According to a news release, in 2019, Google contracted iHeartMedia to record pro-Pixel 4 ads. However, the purported testimonials in the ads were from people who had not previously owned or used the Pixel 4 phone.

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Report: Georgia Could Generate Millions Through Sports Betting

Georgia is one of the largest markets without legalized sports betting, and the state could rival others that have already legalized such wagering.

While the state does not have sports wagering, it does have a lottery. Last week, the Georgia Lottery Corp. reported its most profitable first quarter since its start in 1993.

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Apparel Company Plans $87 Million Facility in Georgia, but Officials Silent on Incentives

by T.A. DeFeo   A global apparel company plans to spend $87 million on a Bryan County manufacturing and distribution facility. Jersey City, New Jersey-based Komar Brands, a company established in 1908 and whose portfolio includes “owned, licensed, and private-label brands,” plans to create 294 new jobs as a part…

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Report: 41 Percent of Small Businesses Can’t Pay Rent in November

More than 40% of U.S. small business owners say they couldn’t pay rent on time or in full for the month of November, the highest this year.

The small business network group Alignable released the survey, which found that the hardship varies by industry. A notable 57% of beauty salons said they couldn’t make rent as well as 45% of gyms, 44% of retail and 44% of restaurants.

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Farmers Can Expect High Interest Rates and Higher Costs Next Year

Farmers borrow short term money up front every year to pay for inputs and operating expenses. At harvest time when they sell their crops, they pay back their operating notes.

For the first time in 20 years, fast-rising interest rates have doubled the cost of short term operating notes, an impact a lot of farmers have never seen before.

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U.S. Senate to Vote on ‘Respect for Marriage Act’ as Several Groups Question its Constitutionality

Several groups argue the Respect for Marriage Act (ROMA) currently before the U.S. Senate is unconstitutional, and if enacted, will eventually be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill, HR 8404, was introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-NY, on July 18 and passed by a vote of 267-157 the next day. The U.S. Senate took it up on November 14.

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Georgia Republicans, Democrats Elect New Leaders for Upcoming Legislative Term

Georgia Republicans and Democrats have elected new leaders for the 2023-24 legislative term.

Republicans selected Sen. John F. Kennedy, R-Macon, as president pro tempore of the Senate. State senators will vote on his nomination once the next legislative session starts on Jan. 9.

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Texas Company Plans New Facility in Georgia

A Texas-based millwork manufacturer plans to spend millions on a new facility outside Athens, and Georgia taxpayers will cover the cost of workforce training.

San Antonio-based Steves & Sons plans to invest more than $100 million over the next three years on a new 310,000-square-foot facility in Jackson County. It plans to produce molded door skins annually for new housing construction, repair and remodeling. According to a release, the company will create 170 jobs as part of the project.

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Higher Prices Hit the Holiday Season as Black Friday Approaches

Americans will pay higher prices for a range of goods and services for the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday shopping this year, and it looks like things may only get worse as we draw nearer to Christmas.

Those driving for the holidays and of course those preparing the Thanksgiving meal will pay the price this year. Federal inflation data from the Commerce Department shows energy costs have risen 17.6% in the past year, and overall food costs increased 10.9% in the same time.

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San Francisco Launches Guaranteed Income Program for Transgender Community

San Francisco city officials announced Wednesday they would launch a new guaranteed income program for the city’s transgender community.

The program, dubbed the Guaranteed Income for Trans People (GIFT), will provide 55, low-income transgender city residents with $1,200 each month for up to 18 months. The pilot program is the first of its kind for trans individuals in the city, though San Francisco has launched several other programs in recent years.

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Georgia Officials Tout Unemployment Rate That Is Lower than National Average

Georgia officials said Thursday the state’s October unemployment rate remained lower than the national rate, news that follows a new finding that nearly half a million Georgians have dropped out of the workforce.

While Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 2.9% was lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.7%, it was slightly higher than last month’s rate of 2.8% but down from last October’s 3.4% rate.

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Texas Group Sues Biden Administration over Climate Agenda

The Texas Public Policy Foundation filed lawsuits against three federal agencies accusing them of failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about their involvement with implementing the Biden administration’s climate policies in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden accepted the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the United States. He later announced his administration would set a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) number, pledging an “economywide target of reducing America’s net greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent.”

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Aerospace Company Plans to Build Electric Aircraft in Georgia, but Taxpayer Subsidies Are Unknown

An aerospace company offering “sustainable urban air mobility” plans to spend $118 million on electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft manufacturing facility in Newton County.

Unsurprisingly, state officials would not say whether Georgia taxpayers will cover the cost of any incentives for the company.

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Abbott Expanding Operation Lone Star in Effort to Secure Southern Border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expanding Operation Lone Star in an effort to further secure the state’s southern border with Mexico.

Abbott, who has been critical of President Joe Biden’s open border policies, sent a letter to Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department Adjutant General Thomas Suelzer in which he said, “Until Congress acts or the Biden Administration does its constitutionally required job, Texas Guardsmen and Troopers must bear the burden of securing the border.”

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Long-Serving Georgia House Speaker Ralston Dies Weeks After Leaving Leadership Position

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, died Thursday following an extended illness.

Ralston, 68, announced earlier this month he would step down as state House speaker. Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, will serve as the 74th state House speaker for the remainder of Ralston’s term, which ends in January.

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Biden Pulls Back on Pledge to Codify Roe v. Wade

President Joe Biden raised eyebrows Monday telling reporters that he expects no progress on the abortion issue in the second half of his term.

“I don’t think they can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions,” Biden said when asked by a reporter what Congress would do on abortion following the midterms. “I’m not going to get into more questions. I shouldn’t even answer your question.”

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Battery Manufacturer Plans $2.5B Facility in Georgia, but Officials Silent on Incentives

A battery producer plans to spend more than $2.5 billion on a manufacturing facility in Coweta County.

FREYR Battery plans to create 723 new jobs over seven years as a part of its investment.

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Texas AG Paxton Investigating Zuckerberg-Funded Nonprofit for Alleged Partisan Electioneering Efforts in 2020

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a Civil Investigative Demand to the Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) as part of an investigation his office launched to determine whether it “solicited donations under the pretext of protecting voters from Covid-19 while instead using the funds to support partisan electioneering efforts or election oversight roles normally left to state and local officials.”

CTCL, a self-described non-partisan nonprofit organization, according to the bios posted on its own website and other records, “is led by individuals with distinctly partisan backgrounds,” the AG’s office says. CTCL’s founder and executive director, for example, Tiana Epps-Johnson, was among a group of inaugural Obama Foundation Fellows who previously was the Election Administration director for a progressive grassroots organization, the New Organizing Institute. She also worked on the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

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IG Reports ‘Historic’ COVID Unemployment Funds Lost, Congress Investigates

Reports indicate as much as $400 billion in COVID-19 unemployment relief were likely lost to waste and fraudsters. Lawmakers want answers.

Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor demanding documents and information related to the unemployment fraud.

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Amid GOP Gains, Warnock, Walker Headed to December 6 Runoff to Decide Pivotal Georgia Senate Seat

The much-anticipated and widely watched Georgia Senate race is headed to a runoff.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will face off during a Dec. 6 runoff. With the balance of the U.S. Senate potentially on the line, The Peach State will be the epicenter of the political world for the next four weeks.

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Ammo Manufacturer Plans New Facility in Georgia, but Officials Silent on Incentives

An ammunition manufacturer plans to spend $60 million to build a new manufacturing and distribution facility in Bryan County, Ga.

Georgia officials would not say whether the state offered any tax incentives to encourage Norma Precision to build its new facility in Georgia. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development told The Center Square that the project is “still active,” a designation that allows state officials to decline to release details about tax incentives the state offered.

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Economics Professor: Interest Rates Likely Will Continue to Rise into 2023, Lead to Job Losses

While high rates of inflation have hit the entire nation hard, some regions have experienced it more intensely.

WalletHub reported Thursday that the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI, metropolitan statistical area has experienced the 16th highest rise in inflation, based on two Consumer Price Index metrics: latest month versus two months prior and latest month versus one year ago. The metrics received equal weight in the report.

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Georgia Awards $39.4 Million in Grants to Courts to Clear Up COVID-Related Case Backlogs

The state has awarded $39.4 million in grants aimed at helping more than three dozen judicial circuits to clear case backlogs.

The Judicial Council of Georgia Ad Hoc Committee announced the grants, funded by federal American Rescue Plan money, to circuits that applied. These awards for the 2023 calendar year are part of the Judicial Council’s ARPA grant program’s second year.

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Auto Parts Manufacturer Planning $317 Million Investment in Georgia to Supply Hyundai Electric Vehicle Plant

An automotive parts manufacturer is planning to spend $317 million on a new manufacturing facility near Statesboro, but state officials won’t say how much of the bill taxpayers will have to cover.

Joon Georgia Inc. plans to create 630 new jobs at Bulloch County’s Bruce Yawn Commerce Park, previously named the Southern Gateway Commerce Park. State officials touted the news as “the first confirmed supplier” for Hyundai Motor Group’s new Bryan County facility.

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Planned Parenthood Revenue Trending Up as Taxpayer Funding Increases

Planned Parenthood’s revenues increased 16% nationwide over the past four years as private contributions and government reimbursements and grants have risen.

The reproductive care organization’s total revenues increased from $1.46 billion in 2016-17 to $1.71 billion in 2020-21, according to its annual report that was recently released.

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Georgia House Speaker Ralston Won’t Seek Nomination for Another Term as Leader

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, the longest currently serving state house speaker in the country, will not seek another nomination for the leadership post.

Ralston, the 73rd speaker of the state House, will serve the rest of his term, which ends in January, but will not seek another term for the two-year legislative session that starts in January.

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King County Court in Washington Blocks Albertsons $4B Dividend Payment

King County Superior Court Commissioner Henry Judson approved a motion granting a temporary restraining order blocking Albertsons from making a $4 billion dividend payment to investors as part of a planned nearly $25 billion merger with the Kroger Company.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued on Tuesday to stop the payment – which was scheduled for Nov. 7 – while Albertsons’ merger with Kroger is under review. In the lawsuit, Ferguson claims the payout could jeopardize the grocery giant’s ability to do business and imperil jobs.

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Feds Pay Nearly $1.2 Million to Study If Racism Causes Poor Sleep

The National Institutes of Health has issued more than a million dollars via taxpayer-funded medical research grants to find evidence that racism is to blame for poor sleep in minority communities.

The funding was appropriated to Dr. Alexander Tsai, an associate professor at Harvard University who is conducting the research through Massachusetts General Hospital, where he works as a psychiatrist.

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Polls Find Key Races Too Close to Call

United States Capitol

Election day comes Tuesday, putting a range of major issues up for grabs as both parties battle for control of the House, Senate and gubernatorial races around the country.

The latest polling shows a tight but favorable electoral landscape for Republicans. FiveThirtyEight’s analysis and compilation of generic polls found voters overall prefer that Republicans control Congress by 1.2 percent.

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Claiming ‘Democracy Under Attack,’ Biden Administration Looks to Make It Harder to Oust Unions

The day after President Joe Biden claimed “American democracy is under attack,” his administration took action to make it more difficult for employees to vote on whether or not they want to join a union.

At a Democrat Party campaign event on Wednesday, Biden said democracy is under attack by the “MAGA Republican Party,” referring to those who support former President Donald Trump.

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Georgia’s Kemp Extends Gas Tax Moratorium Again

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has signed an extension of the state’s gas tax moratorium, saying such a move is needed because of a potential diesel fuel shortage.

The extension runs through Dec. 11.

Kemp also extended the locomotive fuel tax moratorium and a supply chain state of emergency. The governor, who is in the middle of a reelection campaign against Democrat Stacey Abrams, squarely placed the blame for high gas prices on President Joe Biden’s policies.

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Border Patrol Union Tells ACLU ‘Go to Hell,’ Urges Votes for Pro-Border Defense Candidates

After another clash with foreign nationals illegally entering the U.S., the union representing Border Patrol agents is urging Americans to vote on Nov. 8 for candidates who will defend them, the rule of law, and the southern border.

On Monday, mostly single male Venezuelans, Mexicans and Hondurans crossed the Rio Grande River and attempted to illegally enter the U.S. near El Paso, Texas, and allegedly assaulted Border Patrol agents demanding to be let into the country.

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Georgia’s Kemp Leads Abrams in Rematch of 2018 Gubernatorial Race

Georgia’s gubernatorial race is in the home stretch, as Democrat Stacey Abrams and Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, face off in a rematch of the 2018 race.

Democrats have blamed Kemp for the closure of Atlanta Medical Center, accused the governor of trying to buy votes using federal COVID-19 relief money and criticized his stance on abortion and guns.

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Georgia Department of Transportation Awarded $91.4 Million in Projects for September

The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded more than $91.4 million for 22 projects in September, officials said.

Nearly half (47.8%) went to bridge projects, while about a third (31.8%) went to resurfacing projects. An additional 19.2% went to safety projects, while 1.1% went to widening and reconstruction projects.

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Nearly Two Open Jobs for Every Unemployed Worker, Data Shows

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new employment data which showed there are nearly two open jobs for every unemployed worker in the U.S.

The federal data showed the number of job openings rose to 10.7 million in September, up about 437,000 from the previous month after a significant decrease in August.

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Despite Legal Battle, $5 Billion Rivian Electric Vehicle Plant Still in Progress for Georgia

 Work on electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian Automotive’s $5 billion plant will progress as planned despite an ongoing legal fight, officials confirmed to The Center Square.

Site grading began in the early fall, and the judge’s ruling does not affect progress on development, Marie Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, told The Center Square. However, Gordon deferred to a representative of a public affairs agency to answer more substantive questions about the project.

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Survey: Growing Number of Small Businesses Can’t Pay Rent

Newly released small business survey data shows that an alarming number of businesses are unable to pay rent.

Alignable released its monthly small business report for October which showed 37% of American small business owners were unable to pay rent on time or in full last month. That is up from 30% who said the same the month before.

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Inflation, Supply Chain Woes Raise Costs for Georgia Road Projects

Inflation is driving up the cost of road projects in Georgia, with some project bids more than 40% higher than projected.

As a result, Georgia Department of Transportation officials have rejected some high bids and deferred resurfacing projects for the last six months.

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Cell Phone Bans in Public Schools Are Trending Nationwide

Seven years ago, the former New York City Schools Chancellor said the city’s decision to lift a ban on cell phones in schools was “common sense.”

Last week, the Philadelphia Board of Education approved a contract of up to $5 million with a company that makes locking phone pouches that allow educators to make classrooms phone-free.

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Democratic Secretaries of State Warn ‘Independent State Legislature Theory’ Would Upend Elections

Thirteen Secretaries of State led by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper, a case that will have the court considering the “independent state legislature” theory.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper in December, a case brought forth after the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature adopted a new congressional voting map based on 2020 Census results. A group of Democratic voters and nonprofit organizations alleged the map was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state constitution and challenged it in court, according to Ballotpedia.

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Poll: Walker Now Has a 5-Point Lead over Warnock in Georgia U.S. Senate Race

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports gives Republican challenger Herschel Walker a 5-point lead over Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Rafael Warnock in their race, one of several pivotal to control of the U.S. Senate.

The key demographic for Walker is independent voters, which he leads Warnock by a 14-point margin, 49% to 35%. And this despite Warnock’s three dollars to every dollar the former Heisman Trophy winner’s campaign has raised.

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Georgia Unemployment Rates Drop in September

Georgia’s Regional Commissions saw a drop in their unemployment rates in September, officials said.

Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in September stood at 2.8% for the third consecutive month. The rate is down slightly from 3.2% in January and from 3.5% in September 2021. 

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Regional Commission’s preliminary non-seasonally adjusted unemployment was 2.6%. That is down from 3% a month ago and 3.5% a year ago.

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GDP Bounces Back with 2.6 Percent Growth After Decline Earlier This Year

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released its quarterly Gross Domestic Product data Thursday which the economy grew in the third quarter of 2022 by 2.6% at an annualized rate.

“The increase in real GDP reflected increases in exports, consumer spending, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending, that were partly offset by decreases in residential fixed investment and private inventory investment,” BEA said.

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Report: Georgia Has One of the Nation’s Best Improvements in Its Unemployment Rate

Georgia reported one of the best changes in its unemployment rate of any state in the union, a new analysis found.

According to the report from WalletHub, Georgia has the 15th best change in unemployment. That trailed neighboring Florida (No. 6) and Alabama (12) but was better than South Carolina (28), Tennessee (32) and North Carolina (35).

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Federal Deficit Tops $1.4 Trillion in Fiscal Year 2022, Nearly 50 Percent Above Pre-COVID Level

The Biden administration on Friday released its budgetary data for the last month of fiscal year 2022 which showed the U.S. government ran up a roughly $1.4 trillion deficit. That is an average of nearly $120 billion in added debt every month.

Federal debt surpassed $31 trillion earlier this month. The federal debt topped $30 trillion, its own milestone, in January of this year.

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Georgia’s Kemp Receives B Grade for Fiscal and Tax Policies

The Cato Institute gave Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp a B on its 2022 Fiscal Policy Report Card of governors, citing his tax cuts as a reason for the grade.

The libertarian think tank also gave Kemp, a Republican, a B on its 2020 report card. The analysis grades governors on their fiscal policies from a limited-government viewpoint; the higher the grade, the more a governor has cut taxes and spending.

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