Georgia Today: New voting maps approved; HIV medication; US Soccer Federation new headquarters
LISTEN: On the Thursday, Dec. 7 edition of Georgia Today: The Georgia Legislature gives final approval to new court-mandated voting maps; Georgia health agencies want to make preventative medication for HIV more accessible; and we'll let you know where the U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters will be located.
Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, Dec. 7. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, the Georgia Legislature gives final approval to new court-mandated voting maps. Georgia health agencies want to make preventative medication for HIV more accessible. And we'll let you know where the U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters will be located. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.
Peter Biello: The Georgia House has given final passage to a new congressional map that adds majority-Black districts but keeps the existing partizan makeup. As Stephen Fowler reports, a federal judge will review the proposals later this month.
Stephen Fowler: The GOP proposal adds a majority Black congressional district and Atlanta's western suburbs, following a judge's order on paper and also making another Atlanta district majority Black as well, House redistricting chairman Rob Leverett said complaints about the maps are disingenuous.
Rob Leverett: To decide that you're disenfranchising someone by creating a new district in which that's going to happen, that just — that's strange logic from my perspective.
Stephen Fowler: But to make those majority-Black districts, GOP lawmakers remade the 7th Congressional District from majority nonwhite and Democratic to majority white and Republican. A federal judge will review the maps at a hearing on the 20th. For GPB News, I'm Stephen Fowler.
Peter Biello: State-assisted living community regulators are proposing new rules that would reduce staffing requirements at memory care facilities. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs currently requires two direct care workers for each floor or unit in an assisted living community. The new rule would require the same number of workers, but for the entire family. Former Columbus City Council member John House recently moved to Peachtree City to care for his wife, Marilyn, who has Alzheimer's disease. He says he had her in memory care for five weeks and can't imagine safer care with less staffing.
John House: To put them at risk like that, just — it boggles my mind why anybody would think that is a good thing.
Peter Biello: The Department of Community Affairs hasn't responded to questions from GPB about why they proposed the rule change. The agency is seeking public comment on it through Dec. 13.
Peter Biello: Georgia health agencies want to make preventative medication for HIV more accessible. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more from a meeting of a state public health committee this week.
Sofi Gratas: Georgia has the highest rate of people living with HIV in the country. To encourage prevention, a bill proposed by the Department of Public Health slated for the upcoming legislative session will make post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP available over the counter through a standing order from the Commissioner of Health. Anyone will be able to use that order as a prescription for PEP, which decreases the risk of HIV if taken within three days of exposure. DPH says it will be especially helpful for survivors of sexual assault. DPH also wants statewide access to pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, by 2025. It's currently available in 102 county health departments. That will help more people get patient assistance as well as PrEP can cost thousands of dollars a year without it. For GPB News, I'm Sofi Gratas.
Peter Biello: Developers broke ground this week on a new apartment building in Atlanta's Reynoldstown neighborhood that will turn a prominent eyesore into supportive housing for low income or unhoused people. The Atlanta BeltLine is investing more than a half million dollars in the Ralph David House, which was formerly a motel on Atlanta's Moreland Avenue near the onramp of I-20 West. The apartments will be reserved for people who were previously unhoused or are earning less than 30% of the area's median income. The Atlanta BeltLine is working toward its goal of preserving or creating 5,600 units of affordable housing before the completion of the city-circling trail by 2030. The apartments are expected to open in fall next year.
Peter Biello: The Georgia Department of Transportation is taking steps toward building hydrogen fueling stations. The agency has released a notice of intent to advertise and plans to put out a request for proposals next year. They're looking for a developer to build a publicly accessible hydrogen fueling station in Southeast Georgia. The technology is in the early stages of development, but is seen as a promising technology for recharging commercial vehicles, including large trucks.
Peter Biello: A new pediatric behavioral health unit has opened in Macon. It's part of an effort to meet the mental health needs of children in the region. GPB's Ellen Eldridge has more.
Ellen Eldridge: Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for Georgia children between ages 10 through 17. As a result, mental health care experts are trying to meet the growing demands for crisis and outpatient treatment. Dr. John Wood is the medical director at Atrium Health Services, Adult and Pediatric Emergency Departments in Macon. He says this three-bed unit is part of their 112-bed Children's hospital that serves Central and South Georgia.
Dr. John Wood: I think our entire state could use additional mental health resources, and I know this is being addressed at the state level.
Ellen Eldridge: Wood says it's a challenge for pediatricians to manage behavioral health and a psychiatrist is ideal to manage psychiatric medications. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.
Peter Biello: U.S. Soccer has picked Fayette County, south of Atlanta, as the site for its national training center. The organization said today it would locate its headquarters, 27 soccer fields and other facilities at a 200-acre site near the movie studio and planned community Trillith. Chicago-based U.S. Soccer chose the Atlanta area for its national headquarters in September. Today it said it chose the Fayette County location because of its proximity to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and its ability to drive economic impact locally.
Peter Biello: One of the last surviving tickets from the very first Masters tournament has been sold for a little less than a quarter million dollars. Christie's auctioned the rare 1934 ticket yesterday as part of a collection of otherwise mostly baseball memorabilia from Canadian musician Geddy Lee of the rock band Rush. Christie's described its original owners only as a prominent Augusta family that owned a local retail business. The price printed on the ticket for the final round of play was $2.20, or about $50 in today's money.
Peter Biello: In other sports news, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Atlanta Hawks by one point in a back-and-forth game at State Farm Arena last night. Final score, 114 to 113. The Hawks now head to Philadelphia to meet the 76ers tomorrow night. And the Atlanta Braves have bid farewell to relief pitcher Kirby Yates. He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Texas Rangers yesterday. Yates will be 37 on opening day next year. He was 7 and 2 with five saves and a 3.28 ERA last season in helping the Atlanta Braves to a Major League-best 104 wins. Atlanta lost to Philadelphia in the NL Division series. Yates made his postseason debut in Game 2 against the Phillies, with the right-hander throwing a scoreless inning in Atlanta's victory.
Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. Thank you so much for tuning in. I'm taking the day off tomorrow. My colleague Orlando Montoya will be with you. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast. So that will pop up in your podcast feed tomorrow afternoon. And if you want to learn more about any of the stories you heard today, visit gpb.org/news. And as always, if you've got feedback or maybe a story idea, we would love to hear from you. Email us. 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