On the Jan. 4 edition of Georgia Today: Sports gambling may come to GA, Senator Warnock has been sworn in, and a new state representative is stepping down amid his arrest


GA Today Podcast

Orlando Montoya: Welcome to the new Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Wednesday, Jan. 4 and in for Peter Biello, I'm Orlando Montoya. On today's episode: Will 2023 be the year that sports gambling becomes legal in Georgia? We catch up with Sen. Raphael Warnock at the U.S. Capitol. And a newly elected Georgia representative is stepping down following his arrest. These stories and more, coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.


U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock waves to supporters after defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Dec. 6, 2022, runoff election.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock waves to supporters after defeating Republican challenger Herschel Walker in a Dec. 6, 2022, runoff election.

Credit: John Bazemore / AP

Story 1

Orlando Montoya: Raphael Warnock is starting a full six-year term in the U.S. Senate this week after winning five elections in two years. GPB Stephen Fowler caught up with him after he was sworn in at the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

Stephen Fowler: Warnock helped Democrats regain control of the Senate in 2021 runoffs and add to it after a runoff in 2022. He's the only Democrat to win statewide in Georgia's most recent midterms and says the state's battleground status will only continue to grow in the future.

Sen. Raphael Warnock: And I think Georgia once again will prove to be consequential. I think in a real sense, as goes Georgia, so goes the South. As goes the South, so goes the country.

Stephen Fowler: Some of Warnock's areas of legislative interest he plans to pursue? Health care, agriculture and Georgia's military bases. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler in Washington.



Story 2

Orlando Montoya: The Georgia legislature begins its new session next week, and supporters of sports gambling are confident this year could be the one when lawmakers approve a measure supporting their cause. The U.S. Supreme Court opened up the spigot on the country's $165 billion sports betting industry four years ago. Legislative efforts to introduce it in Georgia have failed in every General Assembly session since. But new leadership friendly to sports betting will be in charge of the state Senate when it convenes. Savannah state Rep. Republican Ron Stevens says he's never been more confident that lawmakers will vote to put a sports gambling constitutional amendment on the ballot. Supporters say it would boost the HOPE scholarship and pre-K programs. Opponents say it's another regressive tax on poor Georgians.


Danny Rampey

Danny Rampey

Story 3

Orlando Montoya: A newly elected state representative from Barrow County is stepping down before the General Assembly convened its legislative session next week. Republican Rep.-elect Danny Rampey was arrested and charged with stealing prescription drugs from an assisted living complex he manages in Winder. Rampey chose to resign the seat he just won rather than face suspension from the General Assembly after lawmakers are sworn in next Monday. Governor Brian Kemp has scheduled a special election for Jan. 31 to fill the House District 119 seat, which includes a major portion of Barrow County.


Story 4

Orlando Montoya: Two Republicans are advancing to a runoff to fill the seat held by the late Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. Ralston's widow, Sheree Ralston, won the most votes in a special election Tuesday but fell short of a majority. She'll face Johnny Chastain in the Jan. 31 runoff.


An electric truck built by electric vehicle maker Rivian

An electric truck built by electric vehicle maker Rivian is shown. The California-based company announced it's building a $5 billion plant in East Georgia.

Credit: Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Story 5

Orlando Montoya: One of the state's largest and most contentious economic development projects has cleared a major federal regulatory hurdle. GPB's Amanda Andrews has more.

Amanda Andrews: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is determined Rivian can build an electric pickup truck plant near federally protected waters in Morgan and Walton counties, saying Rivian's plans minimize impacts to those wetlands. Rivian's spokesperson said the company remains excited to work with Georgia to bring good-paying manufacturing jobs to the state while respecting the natural environment in which we operate." Residents opposed to Rivian have been raising legal challenges to it in the years since it was announced. Earlier this month [December], the opposition group dropped a lawsuit; that allowed excavation at the building site to continue. But in another legal battle, a judge sided with Rivian's opposition and rejected $700 million in local property tax bonds, which the state gave the car manufacturer as part of a $1.5 billion incentive package. The state plans to appeal the decision. For GPB News, I'm Amanda Andrews.


Story 6

Orlando Montoya: Economists at a major credit rating agency expect the Port of Savannah to continue to grow in the new year despite concerns over a possible recession. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Benjamin Payne: "Mildly positive." That's how Fitch Ratings describes its outlook for U.S. ports in 2023. That's good news for Georgia, as the Port of Savannah is the fourth-busiest in the country. Emma Griffith is lead analyst for ports at Fitch Ratings.

Emma Griffith: We see ports as really essential infrastructure. The gateway for both raw materials and finished goods into the United States is still through the ports. And so even in a recessionary or tempered growth environment, a lot of that cargo still has to come through.

Benjamin Payne: Even so, Griffith says ports won't match the record high growth they saw over the past two years when online shopping surged during the earlier stages of the pandemic. Fitch Ratings expects the recession to hit sometime in the spring. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.


Story 7

Orlando Montoya: A Minnesota-based window replacement company plans to build a $450 million manufacturing facility in metro Atlanta's Henry County. Renewal by Anderson expects the plant in Locust Grove to hire 900 workers and be operational by 2025. It's the company's first manufacturing facility in the Southeast. Parent company Anderson already operates two facilities in metro Atlanta. A distribution center in Douglasville and a Windows and Doors office in Marietta.

And that's it for today's edition of Georgia Today. But we want to hear from you. Let us know what you think. Send an email to Georgia Today at GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. For more news from GPB, go to GPB.org/newsletters and sign up for the Georgia Today newsletter. I'm Orlando Montoya. We'll see you tomorrow.