LISTEN: On the Friday, March 17 edition of Georgia Today: Sports betting in Georgia is not quite dead; Georgia Supreme Court weighs in on Delta-8 and Delta-10; and St. Patrick's Day returns in Savannah.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Friday, March 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode: Sports betting may not be dead after all in the state legislature; the Georgia Supreme Court weighs in on Delta-8 and Delta-10 THC products; and the annual St Patrick's Day parade tradition lives on in Savannah. We'll take you there. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.



Story 1

Peter Biello: A Georgia Senate committee has revived a proposal to legalize sports betting. The Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee amended an unrelated bill to include sports betting under the state lottery and legalize it without asking voters to amend the state constitution. The move comes late in the session after sports betting proposals failed in both the House and Senate.


Story 2

Peter Biello: A firearm safety bill got a rare hearing in the Republican-controlled Legislature. A Georgia House subcommittee heard testimony on House Bill 161. It aims to punish gun owners who negligently allow a gun to get into the hands of an unsupervised child. The bill will not move forward this session, but the bill's author, Johns Creek Democrat Michelle Au, says just having a hearing is a win.


Story 3

Peter Biello: Democratic lawmakers in the Georgia House held an informal hearing this week on how to manage the end of a temporary federal policy that kept more than 2 million people in Georgia on Medicaid since the start of the pandemic. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

Sofi Gratas: Starting April 1, over 20% of people in Georgia currently on Medicaid are expected to lose coverage, even if temporarily. Georgia has a year for Medicaid redeterminations, but lawmakers and advocates are concerned about the logistics of, quote, "unwinding." Southeast Regional Director Antrell Tyson is with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He says everyone on Medicaid should check their status and that it's state leaders' jobs to communicate that.

Antrell Tyson: What we want to make sure that we're telling people that they do not have to wait for something in the mail to say that they're ineligible because at that time, you're wasting time.

Sofi Gratas: Georgia's current plan to mitigate losses includes income dependent automatic renewals for Medicaid and hiring more workers for redeterminations for GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.



Story 4

Peter Biello: The Georgia Supreme Court has cleared the way for Gwinnett County to stop the sale of Delta-8 and Delta-10. Cannabis-derived products containing very low THC amounts are broadly considered legal in Georgia. So when Gwinnett County cracked down on them last year, shop owner Jennifer Byrd said her business was threatened and took the county's district attorney to court.

Jennifer Byrd: Forsyth as a neighboring counties to Gwinnett and Forsyth had made Delta-8 illegal to sell. And, you know, nobody has a problem with complying with that because they went through the right channels, they passed the law and they gave a notice and everybody could do whatever they needed to do as a business. And she kind of just — I mean, there was no warning. There was no law changed.

Peter Biello: Byrd also spoke about the types of people who are buying these products in her shop.

Jennifer Byrd: We find that it helps a lot of people, a lot of people switch from harsher drugs, prescription drugs, over to this and are able to wean off. And it does assist with maybe some pain, some anxiety, whatever reason they're taking it.

Peter Biello: Gwinnett County District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson says she wants to prevent children from getting their hands on the products, which she says aren't specifically authorized by law. A ruling from the state's highest court this week doesn't address the underlying legal gray areas of Delta-8 and Delta-10. Both burden. Austin-Gatson called on lawmakers to provide clarity in the law.



Story 5

Peter Biello: One of Macon's largest providers of shelter and social services to the unhoused will have fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen later this summer. And as GPB's Grant Blankenship explains, the food will be grown onsite.

Grant Blankenship: The Brookdale Resource Center has two main programs. One provides beds to the chronically homeless. The older program serves families who may have only recently lost their homes. Both programs are under the roof of a former elementary school with its own kitchen. Officials say the raised vegetable beds being built on the playground blacktop out back will grow enough produce to feed 100 clients for a year. Allison Bender manages the Brookdale Resource Center.

Allison Bender: Well, I mean, we're — we're in an area where it is a food desert, so having this opportunity here for them to have this fresh produce is going to make a difference.

Grant Blankenship: Bender says they're looking for volunteers to help and hope to have the first plants in the ground by the second week of April. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.



Story 6

Peter Biello: State lawmakers are moving closer to putting a framework in place to accommodate the growth of electric vehicles in Georgia. A Senate committee yesterday approved a bill for a planned statewide network of public EV charging stations. The bill already passed in the state House.



Story 7

Peter Biello: California-based film giant Lionsgate Entertainment is set to anchor a new movie and TV studio coming to metro Atlanta's Douglas County. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Wednesday the company has agreed to lease production space at the facility. A formal announcement is expected later this month.


Story 8

Peter Biello: Thousands of Georgians and tourists alike turned out this morning to downtown Savannah for the city's raucous St Patrick's Day parade. GPB's Benjamin Payne was there.

Benjamin Payne: Savannah's busiest event drew folks from far and wide, like Jennifer and Darrell Owemby, who made the seven-hour drive from Knoxville, Tenn..

Jennifer Owemby: I'm a McDermott from my family. So this is just their tradition.

Darrell Owemby: All of the pomp and circumstance that goes with it. It's just a wonderful celebration.

Benjamin Payne: Marching bands made the trip as well, including the Red Pride Band from Lincoln County High School near Augusta. Daphanie Dawkins made the trip from Lawrenceville, Ga., for her first time at the parade.

Daphanie Dawkins: I'm here today in Savannah to get a whiff of what it's like to be Irish and what St. Patrick's Day is all about.

Benjamin Payne: Karilena and Greg Barfield are from Savannah and have been coming here for years.

Karilena Barfield: It's a whole week affair. I mean, you start prepping for it and then you just get to spend the entire day from sunup to sundown with your favorite people.

Greg Barfield: Our heritage runs so deep here. It's special.

Benjamin Payne: For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne in Savannah.



Story 9

Peter Biello: And finally, the Kennesaw State men's basketball team's Cinderella season came to an end this afternoon in Greensboro. The 14-seeded Owls gave third-seeded Xavier all they could handle, but ended up losing 72-67 in their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance. Our congratulations to KSU on an outstanding season. Meanwhile, there's a bit of good news from the NCAA tournament today. The Lady Bulldogs beat Florida State 66-54 this afternoon.


And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. We appreciate you being there. Please do subscribe to this podcast. We've got more news coming out of the newsroom on Monday and you won't want to miss a single story. If you've got feedback, we'd love to hear it. Email us at And if you like this podcast, leave a review; that helps other people find it. I'm Peter Biello. Have a safe and happy weekend. We'll see you on Monday.


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