Georgia Police Officer Resigns After Being Put on Leave for Facebook Post on Traditional Marriage

A Georgia police officer has resigned after he was told by superiors that he could not share his personal religious views on social media.  

“If someone somewhere considers an opinion I have—that isn’t a direct quotation from Scripture—to be offensive, then that would be a fireable offense,” Jacob Kersey, the former officer, told The Daily Signal.

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Georgia Gov. Kemp: ‘State of Our State Has Never Been Stronger’

In his State of the State Address, Governor Brian Kemp touted progress in his first term, and laid out next steps that include increased education, incentives for law enforcement and healthcare professionals, and targeted Medicaid expansion through the Georgia Pathways to Coverage program. “Over the last four years our greatest…

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Pro-Life Advocates Pushing Personhood Legislation in Georgia

Pro-life activists expect Georgia Republicans to file two bills granting equal rights to the unborn; the bills would impact exceptions currently in place under Georgia’s heartbeat law that bans abortions after six weeks.

Georgia Right to Life (GRL) Executive Director Zemmie Fleck said the heartbeat bill grants some rights, mostly to the mother, including counting the unborn in the census. It includes exceptions for certain circumstances surrounding conception or health.

“This would actually say all of those children who are classified in the rape and incest category or the fetal anomaly category, or the life of the mother category, those children also — they have equal protection of their life, and they have the equal recognition that they are persons to be treated just like a born person,” she said.

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DOJ: Atlanta Man Recruited 10 Others for $3 Million Paycheck Protection Program Loan Scheme

Eleven men have been sentenced after a scheme to obtain $3 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans; Atlanta man Rodericque Thompson recruited nine business owners to obtain $300,000 loans with fraudulent applications according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.

“The CARES Act and the PPP designated funds to aid struggling businesses during a pandemic,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said in a press release. “American businesses needed these funds to keep their companies and employees afloat during a national emergency and world-wide pandemic. These defendants took advantage of that program to obtain money to which they were not lawfully entitled. We will continue investigating and prosecuting those who attempt to steal these critical funds.”

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Attorney General Carr: In First Six Months, Gang Prosecution Unit Indicted 50 Alleged Gang Members

Attorney General Chris Carr touted the work done by his new Gang Prosecution Unit launched in July; since then, the unit has indicted 50 alleged gang members across 13 counties, he told legislators on Wednesday.

The Georgia gang investigators estimate that 60 percent of violent crimes are gang-related, so this unit’s creation is perfectly timed to be a force multiplier in this fight,” Carr said in a presentation to the money committees. “With the new unit, we’ve been working hand-in-hand with local, state, and federal law enforcement to ensure that violent criminals are aggressively prosecuted and put behind bars.”

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Georgia’s Unemployment Rate Was Unchanged to Close Out 2022

Georgia’s December unemployment rate was 3%, unchanged from November’s revised rate.

Additionally, state officials said job numbers increased by nearly 6,000 from November, hitting an all-time high. Georgia’s unemployment rate remained lower than the national unemployment rate of 3.5% in December.

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Georgia Will Have Republicans in Top Three U.S. House Committees

Georgia will have four Republicans in three of the most powerful House of Representatives committees: Representative Andrew Clyde (R-GA-09) has been picked for the Appropriations Committee, and Representative Rick Allen (R-GA-12) has been selected for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Representative Buddy Carter (R-GA-01) already serves on that committee, and Representative Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03) already serves on the Ways and Means Committee.

Committees decide the fate of legislation in Congress and hold hearings. The appointments of Clyde and Allen to the committees give them more personal power and opportunities to advance their careers, but the positions also give them the ability to more directly influence major legislation on behalf of their districts.

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Georgia Completes First Project Under Federally Funded Rail Program

The state has upgraded 138 miles of the Heart of Georgia Railroad, the first project the state has completed under a federal program to upgrade rail projects nationwide.

In 2018, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded $2 million in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grant funding. The state contributed another $2 million in bond funds for the project.

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Georgia December 2022 Tax Revenues Up Thanks to Corporate Tax

Georgia’s December 2022 tax revenues hit $3.21 billion, up $224.9 million and 7.5 percent higher than the same month in 2021 despite decreases in fuel tax and personal income tax revenues.

The report also marks the first six months of Fiscal Year 2023.

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Georgia Legislative Study Committee Endorses Pilot Mileage Tax Program

The Joint Study Committee on the Electrification of Transportation has endorsed the Georgia Department of Transportation’s pilot program taxing motorists based on vehicle miles traveled.

Charging a mileage tax would recoup what state leaders see as a potential loss in revenue via the gas tax. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, suspended the gas tax to help Georgians counter rising inflation.

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Kemp Budget Proposal Includes More Tax Rebates, Spending on Schools and Police, and a 2024 Cost of Living Increase for State Employees

Governor Brian Kemp announced his budget proposal on Friday, highlighting $250 income tax rebates, one-time discounts on homeowner property tax, and spending on education, economic development, improving healthcare access, and a $2,000 cost-of-living increase for state employees.

“Despite national economic headwinds caused by 40-year high inflation, Georgia’s economy remains a leader nationwide. As we look ahead to the upcoming fiscal year, we expect the state’s economy to be well positioned to withstand any further national economic slowing,” he said in a letter to lawmakers.

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Georgia Taxpayers Will Have to Pay Majority of $6 Million to Fight Abrams Lawsuit

Georgia taxpayers are on the hook to cover the bulk of the state’s cost to defend a lawsuit that alleged voter suppression in the 2018 election, state officials confirmed this week.

Fair Fight Action, founded by failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, and other groups filed a lawsuit in November 2018, alleging Georgia’s election processes denied thousands of residents the ability to vote. The allegations centered on Georgia’s absentee ballot procedures, voter registration and voter list management practices.

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Nonprofit Says Georgians Are Still Hurting from Inflation

While the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers dropped 0.1% in December and the year-over-year inflation rate stands at 6.5%, a Georgia nonprofit says Peach State residents may not be feeling the good news.

“We keep seeing positive headlines about the inflation rate, but that good news is lost on average Georgians who are continually pinched on the cost for everyday necessities like groceries and gas,” Erik Randolph, Georgia Center for Opportunity’s director of research, said in a statement. “Although there was some positive news in the December numbers, it’s important to keep in mind that core inflation remained elevated, including for food. If policymakers in Washington truly want to help the most economically vulnerable in our country, they must return to fiscal sanity and rein in the spending.

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At Inauguration, Georgia Gov. Kemp, LG Jones Call for Tax Relief, Money for Law Enforcement and Schools, and Tougher Sentencing Guidelines

During their inaugural speeches, Governor Brian Kemp and newly-elected Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones painted a picture of Republican successes in Georgia but called for further tax relief, investment in schools and health care, and tough-on-crime policies. “Last year on the campaign trail, no matter where we went, hard-working Georgians told…

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Solar Panel Manufacturer Invests $2.5 Billion in Georgia Factories

Governor Brian Kemp announced that solar panel manufacturer Qcells will invest $2.5 billion to build two new factories in Georgia, a significant expansion after the company opened the largest solar panel factory in the western hemisphere in Dalton in 2019.

“I am honored to announce the growth of Qcells in Georgia for a second time in less than a year,” Kemp said in a press release.

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Mass Transit Could Be Expanding in Georgia, but Critics Say Costs Aren’t Justified

Atlanta once had a robust transportation network, with streetcars rumbling along the city’s streets and interurban lines connecting suburbs like Marietta and Stone Mountain.

But 75 years ago, the lines shuttered, replaced by new forms of transportation: Automobiles.

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Georgia Gas Tax Moratorium Ends, Rises to 31.2 Cents

Governor Brian Kemp allowed Georgia’s moratorium on state gas and diesel taxes to expire on Tuesday night, after first introducing the moratorium in May and renewing it six times since then.

In 2022, Georgia’s gas tax was 29.1 cents and the diesel tax at 32.6 cents, but that’s going up on Wednesday to 31.2 cents and 35 cents, respectively. As of January 10, before the taxes took effect, Georgia’s average gas price was $2.808, below the national average of $3.270, according to AAA Gas Prices.

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Georgia House Elects Speaker Jon Burns

The Georgia House of Representatives elected former Majority Leader Senator Jon Burns (R-Newington) to be Speaker of the House in its first day of session. Burns replaces Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), who became Georgia’s first woman Speaker of the House after late Speaker David Ralston died November 2022. Jones was re-elected to be Speaker Pro-Tempore on Monday.

“This is, admittedly, a very bittersweet moment,” Burns said in a speech after he took the dais. “Just a matter of weeks before today, I never would have imagined standing for this office. The passing of Speaker David Ralston has left a hole in the heart of this House.”

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Opioid Settlements Should Net Georgia $181 Million

Georgia officials expect the state will receive more than $181 million after joining national settlements with four companies over allegations they contributed to the opioid crisis.

The Peach State will use the money from Allergan, CVS, Teva and Walgreens to help fund treatment, prevention, reduction and recovery initiatives.

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Chicago School Audit Finds Nearly 500 Sexual Complaints Filed in 2022

Chicago school officials this week revealed that the school system recorded nearly 500 sexual complaints over the last year, with investigators stressing their inability to respond to a majority of all complaints they receive.

The Chicago Board of Education Office of Inspector General said in its 2022 annual report that it received 470 “sexual allegation” complaints over the course of FY2022.

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DOJ Announces Final Sentence in Operation Against Drug Traffickers Targeting Savannah

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia announced the final sentence in its Operation Stranded Bandit which saw 34 defendants sentenced to up to 292 months for involvement in meth trafficking from Mexico to Savannah through Atlanta.

“Our law enforcement partners built Operation Stranded Bandit on the foundation of prior investigations dismantling a network of drug traffickers operating inside and outside prisons to bring large quantities of methamphetamine to coastal Georgia,” U.S. Attorney David Estes said in a Thursday press release. “Getting gun-carrying drug traffickers off our streets, particularly those with gang affiliations, is a vital part of protecting our communities from violent crime.”

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Incentives Unknown for Window Replacement Company Building Georgia Plant

A full-service window replacement company plans to build its first manufacturing facility in Georgia. However, it’s unclear whether Georgia taxpayers will be on the hook for any part of it.

Renewal by Andersen, a division of Bayport, Minnesota-based Andersen Corporation, said it would spend more than $420 million on the manufacturing facility. Economic development officials said the company would create 900 new jobs as part of the project at The Cubes at Locust Grove in Henry County.

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District 9 Chairwoman Rebecca Yardley Announces Campaign for Georgia GOP Chair

Georgia GOP (GAGOP) District 9 Chairwoman Rebecca Yardley announced her campaign to chair the Georgia Republican Party; current Chairman David Shafer hasn’t yet decided if he will run, but Yardley will likely face him or one of his allies in the June convention.

“Our Party deserves a chairman who is fully focused on taking the steps required to win Georgia elections. I’ve witnessed firsthand the incredible work done on the county and district levels. Now it’s time to have our top leadership at the state match the same energy, concentration, and drive shown by our local members daily,” Yardley said in a Thursday press release.

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Kemp Announces $234 Million in Grants to Expand Broadband Access

Governor Brian Kemp announced $234 million in 29 grants for broadband expansion using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds; the money will go to 12 internet service providers in 28 counties and will be matched with other funds for a total $455 million to support 76,000 locations.

“Georgia is again leading the nation in identifying where the digital divide is the deepest and acting on that knowledge to improve service for hardworking people all the way from Seminole County to Gordon County and beyond,” Kemp said in a Wednesday press release.

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Ralston, Chastain Go to Runoff in Georgia’s House District 7 Election

Sheree Ralston took 45.02 percent of the  House District (HD) 7 special election vote on Tuesday night, followed by Johnny Chastain with 39.28 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. That sets the two candidates up for a runoff.

That’s a bad result for Kemp-endorsed Sheree Ralston since Chastain is likely to pick up votes from conservative supporters who backed the other three candidates on Tuesday, according to Atlanta Tea-Party President Debbie Dooley.
That’s a bad result for Kemp-endorsed Ralston, since Chastain is likely to pick up votes from conservative supporters who backed the other three candidates on Tuesday, according to Atlanta Tea-Party President Debbie Dooley.

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Georgia’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority Boss Wants to Expand Service in Atlanta Metro Area

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority recently unveiled the first of its new railcars for its network. The $646 million cars are expected to start service in 2025.

MARTA General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood spoke with The Center Square during the event about what’s next for the transit agency, funding and possible expansion to new areas.

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Georgia High School Students Demand Right to Use ‘N-Word,’ Want White Teacher Fired for Saying It

Black students at a Georgia high school claim they should be able to say the “n-word” if they wish, but want a white teacher sanctioned for using it in a disciplinary context.

According to Atlanta News First, after two (black) Decatur High students allegedly were saying the epithet to each other, physics teacher John Chesnut told the duo to stop using the term — while saying it himself.

This led to student and community outrage, including a forum with the Beacon Hill Black Alliance for Human Rights on December 21.

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HD7 Special Election Pits Republican Radio Host Against Late State House Speaker Ralston’s Widow

House District 7 voters will choose between five Republicans in Tuesday’s special election to fill the seat left vacant by late Speaker David Ralston; the leading candidates include Ralston’s widow, Kemp-endorsed Sheree Ralston, and radio host Brian Pritchard, who is running further to the right.

Ralston has also announced endorsements from the Chamber of Commerce, and has emphasized her work on mental health, while Pritchard is emphasizing his grassroots appeal and resistance to Kemp and establishment Republicans.

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Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia Among 18 States Banning Social Media App TikTok from State Devices

Following South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem’s lead, nearly half of U.S. states have put restrictions on or banned the use of Chinese-based social media app TikTok.

At least 19 states have banned TikTok on government-issued devices – Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utha, Virginia and West Virginia.

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Representative-Elect Rampey Resigns, Kemp Schedules January 31 Special Election

Governor Brian Kemp has set a January 31 special election for House District 119 to replace Representative-elect Danny Rampey. Kemp called for the election in a New Year’s Eve order; the election date coincides with special elections in Senate District 11 and House District 172.

Rampey was elected in the November General Election, where he ran unopposed after defeating Marcus Ray with 82.7 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. But Rampey hadn’t yet taken office when he was arrested in December, facing allegations that he stole narcotics at a retirement complex that he managed, according to the AP. The Athens Banner-Herald reported that Rampey faces 19 felony counts, including burglary and drug possession.

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Report: Georgia’s Revenues Exceeded Expenses During the Last 15 Years

Georgia saw its revenues exceed expenses overall during the past 15 years, a new report reveals.

The Peach State’s total revenue as a share of expenses during fiscal 2006-20 was 102.6%, according to a new analysis from Pew Trusts. That’s in line with the 50-state median of 102.7%.

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Statue to Rep. John Lewis to Stand Outside Georgia Courthouse Where Confederate Obelisk Once Stood

The John Lewis Tribute Task Force announced Thursday that Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson would create a sculpture to honor the late Democratic congressman; the sculpture of the civil rights leader will stand outside the historic Decatur courthouse where a Confederate monument once stood.

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Augusta University Health Systems to Potentially Join Wellstar Health System

Augusta University Health System (AUHS) announced Tuesday the signing of a letter of intent to join Wellstar Health System. The potential deal would join the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), the state’s only public medical school, with one of the largest safety net hospital operators in Georgia.

“This is good news for the Augusta region and for health care across our state. It means more doctors and medical service providers, more options for health care, and greater innovation in this field are coming to Georgia communities,” Governor Brian Kemp tweeted after the AUHS announcement.

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Nonprofit Names $1.5 Billion Georgia Rivian EV Plant Incentive as Worst Deal of 2022

A nonprofit has named Georgia’s decision to give $1.5 billion in incentives for a Rivian Automotive electric vehicle assembly plant 2022’s “Worst Economic Development Deal of the Year.”

The Michigan-based Center for Economic Accountability bestows the honor to a government subsidy of a private company that best illustrates the “massive wastefulness and ineffectiveness of government economic development subsidy programs.”

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Kari Lake Appeals Dismissal of Arizona Election Lawsuit

Kari Lake, the Arizona Republican nominee for governor, is appealing a Maricopa County judge’s dismissal of her lawsuit challenging her defeat to Democrat Katie Hobbs, who is currently serving as secretary of state. 

In a notice of appeal filed Tuesday, Lake asked the Arizona Superior Court to reconsider all 10 counts that she brought up in her original lawsuit as well as the attorneys’ fees she was ordered to pay.

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Georgia Regulators Want More Authority over Rooftop Solar Sales People

The chair of Georgia’s Public Service Commission wants state lawmakers to give more authority to the state board that oversees companies that sell rooftop solar panels.

“I do want to take this opportunity on the record to encourage the Georgia General Assembly to look into increasing the capabilities of the electrical licensing board so that we can cut down the number of consumer complaints that we receive from the rooftop solar industry,” PSC Chair Tricia Pridemore said during a hearing last week.

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Public Service Commission Votes in Favor of Georgia Power Rate Increase

The Georgia Public Service Commission signed off on a deal the Tuesday before Christmas to allow Georgia Power to increase its rates over the next three years.

With the approval, Georgia Power plans to increase rates for its 2.7 million customers by roughly $1.8 billion over three years. The increase is down from an initial request of about $2.9 billion.

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Kari Lake Says Appeal Coming Following Dismissal from Superior Court Judge

Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake had her election challenge completely dismissed by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson Saturday. Following the ruling, Lake tweeted that an appeal would be coming.

“My Election Case provided the world with evidence that proves our elections are run outside of the law. This Judge did not rule in our favor. However, for the sake of restoring faith and honesty in our elections, I will appeal his ruling,” tweeted Lake.

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Georgia Medical Association Says It Wants More Funding for State Medical Board

The head of the Medical Association of Georgia wants state lawmakers to properly fund the Georgia Composite Medical Board, saying the underfunding of the agency isn’t benefiting anyone in the state.

“Having an underfunded, understaffed agency benefits no one,” Jeremy Bonfini, the executive director and CEO of the Medical Association of Georgia, told The Center Square. “It’s our position that the GCMB should be funded sufficiently.

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Georgia Education Officials Cite Education Loss as a Top Priority for 2023

Georgia education officials say they plan to address lost learning opportunities stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

But a leading Georgia nonprofit says state lawmakers should pass legislation to give parents more educational choices, saying the pandemic proved the “one-size-fits-all” model no longer works.

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Georgia Joins Walmart Opioid Settlement

The state of Georgia has signed on to a $3.1 billion national agreement with Walmart amid allegations that the retailer didn’t properly monitor opioids dispensing at its pharmacies; Georgia is expected to get $28 million in the deal, according to an announcement from Attorney General Chris Carr.

“The opioid epidemic has destroyed lives, families, and communities all across our state and nation,” Carr said in the release.

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Day Two of Kari Lake Election Challenge Trial Sees More Witnesses, Closing Arguments from Both Sides

The court battle challenging the validity of the certified outcome of Arizona’s 2022 gubernatorial election entered its second day Thursday under Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson, with attorneys for Republican Kari Lake, Democrat Katie Hobbs, and Maricopa County presenting their final arguments in the trial. Lake seeks to…

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Sen. Ron Johnson Argues to Eliminate $9.8 Billion in Earmarks From $1.7 Trillion Omnibus Bill

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) joined with his colleagues Senators Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Rand Paul (R-KY) to oppose the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill and argue for an amendment that would eliminate all earmarks.

“Thousands of individual projects here, both Democrat and Republican,” Johnson said Tuesday during a press conference

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Day One of Kari Lake Election Contest Trial Sees Testimony from Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer and Election Integrity Expert Heather Honey

The first of two days of oral arguments from Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake’s challenge of the 2022 general election outcome began Wednesday morning, overseen by Judge Peter Thompson in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Testimonies were heard from several officials and experts.

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Georgia Supreme Court Sends 2020 Fulton County Election Lawsuit Back to Appeals Court to Reconsider

The Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday sent a 2020 election lawsuit regarding Fulton County back to a lower court for reconsideration, adding another layer to the suit’s twisting saga through the court system.

The lawsuit, Caroline Jeffords, et al. v. Fulton County, et al., alleges that the plaintiffs’ votes in the 2020 election were “diluted by the inclusion of allegedly unlawful ballots in Fulton County.” Jeffords also alleged that Fulton County violated the Georgia Open Records Act.

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Judge Rules Kari Lake Election Contest Will Go to Trial

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Peter Thompson ruled late Monday that Kari Lake’s election contest lawsuit will go to trial on Wednesday.

The judge’s ruling came hours after attorneys for the defendants–Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors–and the plaintiff, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, delivered oral arguments in court on both sides of the defendants’ motion to dismiss all ten counts set forward in Lake’s 70 page lawsuit.

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Raffensperger Calls Warnock ‘Election Denier’ in WSJ Op-Ed

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) are trading blows in the media after Raffensperger’s Sunday Wall Street Journal op-ed “Raphael Warnock, Election Denier.”

“I have to spend a lot of time shooting down false claims about our elections in Georgia. Usually they come from losers. But sometimes even victorious candidates make false claims about our elections,” Raffensperger wrote, placing Warnock alongside Stacy Abrams and former President Donald Trump.

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Most of Georgia’s Congressional Delegation Votes in Favor of Defense Spending Bill

Most of Georgia’s congressional delegation voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including both Democratic senators, five out of six Democratic representatives, and five out of the eight Republican representatives. After the bill passed out of the Senate on Thursday, Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) said the bill included his own legislation to help veterans access their service records, and Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) touted the inclusion of the Water Resource Development Act (WRDA), which includes $75 million in water infrastructure spending for rural and economically disadvantaged regions in Georgia.

“I’m so glad we were able to get this year’s NDAA over the finish line with tremendous bipartisan support. Georgia notched notable wins in this year’s defense package, including bolstering Georgia’s military bases, ensuring our state is a crucial component to our nation’s national defense for years to come and securing more affordable military housing for servicemembers and their families,” Warnock said in a press release.

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