ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia has become the fifth American state to record 200,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. The numbers were announced Wednesday as the state also neared 4,000 deaths from the COVID-19 respiratory illness that the virus causes. The milestone comes amid signs that the pace of new infections has slowed, although hospitalizations and deaths remain high. Unclear is how the resumption of in-person classes at schools and universities will affect the infection rate. More Georgia school districts opened for face-to-face instruction Wednesday, while Mercer University announced 35 students have tested positive before fall classes even begin. Gov Brian Kemp has ignored pleas from some medical experts to mandate masks and shut down bars.
ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says that he plans to call a special session of the state legislature in order to fix a technical error on a bill that exempts hurricane relief payments from certain taxes. Kemp said in a statement that he signed House Bill 105 Wednesday despite the problem. The bill shields farmers from having to pay state income tax on relief payments received after 2018’s Hurricane Michael. It also imposes a 50-cent tax on ride-hailing services, taxis and limousines instead of leaving them subject to higher, regular sales taxes. Kemp said the bill was assigned an incorrect tracking number during the legislative process, which could open it to a legal challenge.
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) – A Georgia county’s commissioners have approved a settlement for a lawsuit that alleged residents were wrongfully arrested due to erroneous information that was given to state officials regarding their driver’s licenses. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the $775,000 settlement was approved Tuesday by DeKalb County commissioners. The federal lawsuit was filed in 2015 by 17 residents. It alleges the plaintiffs were arrested after personnel from the county’s Recorder’s Court inaccurately told officials that their driver’s licenses had been suspended, or had neglected to say the licenses were reinstated. The state Assembly disbanded the court in 2015. A lawyer for the residents says the settlement has not been finalized.
ATLANTA (AP) – A U.S. House of Representatives report concludes that a Georgia congressman used campaign funds to pay for membership, green fees and meals at two exclusive golf courses. Investigators say a separate taxpayer-funded account paid for holiday parties for U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop’s staff over four years. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the House Committee on Ethics is reviewing the case to determine whether the Democrat from Albany violated congressional rules or federal laws. The newspaper reports that Bishop has since paid back some of the expenses. The congressman’s attorney says he has also implemented new policies and put a different campaign treasurer in place.