Georgia Today: New congressional maps; Georgia Power price hearings; TIME Mag's Person of the Year
On the Monday, Dec. 4 edition of Georgia Today: Republicans push forward their new congressional maps; public hearings begin on Georgia Power's price hike, which is meant to fund the state's nuclear reactors; and a Georgia resident is shortlisted for Time Magazine's 2023 Person of the Year.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, Dec. 4. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Republicans push forward their new congressional maps. Public hearings begin on Georgia Power's price hike, which is meant to fund the state's nuclear reactors. And a Georgia resident is shortlisted for Time Magazine's 2023 Person of the Year. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: Georgia Republicans are advancing a congressional map that would maintain their party's 9 to 5 majority in the state's congressional delegation. A Senate committee voted along party lines today to send the map to the full Senate for more debate. The map would dismantle a district in Atlanta's northern suburbs. That's the one currently represented by Lucy McBath, a Black Democrat. Her district would be replaced with a majority-Black district in Atlanta's western suburbs. It's the second time in two years that Republicans have targeted McBath, a gun control activist. McBath initially won election in a majority white district, but after her district was redrawn to favor Republicans, McBath jumped into the 7th District and beat Democratic incumbent Carolyn Bordeaux in last year's primary. Lawmakers are meeting in special session because a federal court ruled in October that Georgia's political boundaries violate federal law by diluting Black voting power. The new maps could be debated tomorrow before the full state Senate.
Peter Biello: State utility regulators began three days of public hearings today on how much Georgia Power customers should pay for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle. Georgia Power ratepayer Sue Studemeyer urged the elected five-member Public Service Commission not to saddle customers with higher costs.
Sue Studemeyer: They've made lots of mistakes and they should take responsibility for their mistakes. Georgia Power should not put the cost of their mistakes onto Georgia Power customers. It's as simple as that.
Peter Biello: The hearings are part of the process following a deal reached in August between the company, consumer watchdogs and commission staff to increase what the average Georgia Power customer pays by a $14 per month surcharge for the reactors.
Peter Biello: Gov. Brian Kemp and top Republicans in the state House and Senate want to speed up a planned cut in the state income tax rate. Kemp announced plans today to create a flat tax rate of 5.39% starting in January. The rate was already set to fall to 5.49%.
Brian Kemp: That means in just one tax year, we'll realize a cut of 36 basis points, keeping hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of hardworking Georgia taxpayers. This is what happens when you budget conservatively.
Peter Biello: The proposed cut will save someone with a $60,000 salary, an average of $60 per year. Kemp says he eventually wants the rate to fall below 5%. The announcement comes as tax collections are on track to run another multibillion-dollar surplus.
Peter Biello: A new map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows half the state getting warmer. It's the first update to the agency's plant hardiness zones in more than a decade. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports on what it means for growers and gardeners in Georgia.
Benjamin Payne: The map draws on data from thousands of weather stations to show the average lowest winter temperature for any given location over roughly the past 30 years. It's meant to help gardeners and farmers determine what they can successfully grow in specific locations. Troy Keller is an environmental science professor at Columbus State University.
Troy Keller: If you buy seeds, for instance, you'll see the little maps on the back to tell you, okay, you're — if you're in this zone, this is the dates that you should use. Even when you're purchasing trees and things to install in your yards, that hardiness zone matters.
Benjamin Payne: In Georgia, more than half the state saw its hardiness zone warm by about five degrees compared to the last time the map was updated in 2012. Small parts of North Georgia warmed even more, and the rest of the state saw no change to its plant hardiness zone. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.
Peter Biello: The U.S. Postal Service has reversed its decision to move a post office in Gainesville. Congressman Andrew Clyde announced the reversal last week, calling it misguided. The office sits on a busy, historic street near downtown, and business and city leaders have pushed the service for years to sell it. The postal service said it would move out seven years ago, but now will not.
Peter Biello: Time Magazine has released a shortlist of people being considered for its 2023 Person of the Year, and one of them is in Georgia. The magazine says its 96-yearold annual selection of influential individuals, groups or ideas could grow to include the prosecutors who made Donald Trump the first U.S. president in history to be indicted. The magazine didn't explicitly name Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, but she is one of four prosecutors who have charged Trump with a raft of crimes, including election interference and illegally keeping classified documents. Also on the shortlist, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and Barbie.
Peter Biello: The Atlanta Board of Education runoff election takes place tomorrow. Neither incumbent Tamara Jones nor challenger Alfred Chevy Brooks gained more than 50% of the vote last month. They're vying for Seat 7 on the nine-member board, which is an at-large seat elected by all voters citywide.
Peter Biello: In sports, Georgia's 29-game winning streak has come to an end. Alabama beat Georgia 27 to 24 Saturday in the SEC championship game. Alabama will go on to face top-ranked Michigan at the Rose Bowl in a Jan. 1 semifinal and Washington will face Texas at the Sugar Bowl. Joel Taylor, defensive coordinator at Mercer University, has been named the head football coach at the University of West Georgia. He becomes the 12th head football coach in program history and will lead the program to their first season of Division I football next year. He'll be formally introduced at a welcome event tomorrow at noon. And the Atlanta Braves announced a five-player trade today. The Braves acquired left handed pitcher Marco Gonzalez, outfielder Jared Kelenic, infielder Evan White, and cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for pitchers Jackson Cowart and Cole Phillips. The move added a veteran lefty in Gonzales to the Braves pitching staff, and Kelenic who was once one of baseball's top young prospects. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos says the trade completes his search for a left fielder to replace Eddie Rosario, whose $9 million club option was declined.
Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, check out our website, GPB.org/news. And if you haven't hit subscribe on this podcast yet, take a moment and do it now. We'll be back in your podcast feed with all the latest headlines. And if you've got feedback, send it our way via email. The address is GeorgiaToday@GPB.org. I'm Peter Biello. Thanks again for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.
For more on these stories and more, go to GPB.org/news