On the Monday, Feb. 26 edition of Georgia Today: Georgia Republicans take aim at immigration policy after the killing at UGA; a new study finds Georgia lacks a statewide, centralized plan for addressing homelessness; and construction for Hyundai's new electric car manufacturing plant is ahead of schedule.

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, Feb. 26. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode, Georgia Republicans take aim at immigration policy after a killing at UGA. A new study finds Georgia lacks a statewide centralized plan for addressing homelessness. And construction for Hyundai's new electric car manufacturing plant is ahead of schedule. These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

22-year-old nursing student Laken Hope Riley is shown wearing scrubs from Augusta University School of Nursing.

Augusta University nursing student Laken Hope Riley, 22, was killed on the University of Georgia campus in Athens on February 22, 2024.

Credit: Augusta University

Story 1:

Peter Biello: Georgia's top Republicans are taking aim at immigration policy after the killing of an Augusta University student on the University of Georgia campus in Athens last week. A Venezuelan man in the country illegally was arrested and charged late Friday with the murder of Laken Riley. The man, Jose Ibarra, was arrested last September for child endangerment but was released. Speaking to an Athens business group this morning. Gov. Brian Kemp blamed the death on President Joe Biden.

Brian Kemp: Laken's death is a direct result of failed policies on the federal level and an unwillingness by this White House to secure the southern border.

Peter Biello: Later in the Senate, GOP lawmakers echoed his comments and called for action on public safety. That prompted Duluth state senator, Democrat Nabila Parks, to talk about crime statistics, which show immigrants commit fewer crimes than native born Americans.

Nabilah Parkes: Immigrants are not members of a violent invading horde. They are friends, neighbors, and colleagues. As Georgia mourns the loss of Laken Riley, we must not succumb to tribalism and bigotry.

Peter Biello: House members paid tribute to Riley today with a moment of silence.They also mourned the loss of Wyatt Banks, a UGA freshman. Wyatt Banks died by suicide on Wednesday. House member Marcus Wiedower from said their deaths highlight shortcomings and failures for all elected officials.

Marcus Wiedower: It's evident there's work to be done and there will be time for that. There be time for discourse, legislation and accountability. But that is not today. I believe we all can agree right now is time for honoring these two beautiful young lives, robbed of their bright future.

Peter Biello: Hundreds of students and faculty members gathered this afternoon for a vigil for the two students. Both Biden and former President Donald Trump are scheduled to make trips to the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: Georgia is in the minority among U.S. states and not having a centralized statewide plan for addressing homelessness. That's among the findings of a newly released state audit of homeless services. GPB's Grant Blankenship explains.

Grant Blankenship: The audit by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts follows a 2023 state law. The top line? Georgia has gone 22 years without a statewide strategic plan for addressing homelessness. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have such plans in place — only 5 of 9 of city- or county-based formal homeless service planning organizations have their own strategic plans. And Macon-Bibb County stands alone among Georgia cities with neither a formal service organization nor strategy. But the report highlights successes in cities like Columbus and Atlanta, where data drives community-based response. For the bottom line, auditors advised the General Assembly to come up with a new strategic plan for homelessness. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.




Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Story 3:

Peter Biello: Construction is ahead of schedule west of Savannah, where Hyundai is building a nearly $8 billion electric vehicle manufacturing plant. The company originally planned to start production in January 2025. Today, Hyundai President Jose Munoz told state senators the site is now expected to come online three months sooner.

Jose Munoz: We are hiring and training talented and hard-working Georgians at a very fast clip in order to start production in the fourth quarter this year. Starting production in Q4 ensures we will open the entire campus by a target of Q1 2025.

Peter Biello: Munoz says the company is rushing to start production, spurred by federal electric vehicle incentives that reward domestic manufacturing.


Story 4:

Peter Biello: Delta Air Lines is adding a second flight for people wanting to spend as much time as possible in the moon's shadow during an upcoming solar eclipse. The Atlanta-based airline said today that a flight announced last week from Austin to Detroit on April 8th has sold out, so it's adding a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Detroit also to coincide with that time and the path of the eclipse.


Story 5:

Peter Biello: Several Georgia nonprofit organizations are expanding to provide more people with disabilities access to medical equipment and assistive technology. GPB's Ellen Eldridge has more.

Ellen Eldridge: The Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, or FODAC, is working with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and nine Centers for Independent Living across the state to bring things like wheelchairs to people who need but cannot afford them. A new branch in Savannah will help the partners serve people in rural and underserved parts of the state.

Chris Brand: We're just getting a renovation started down there in the next month, and that's another big chapter that's going to help our coastal partners we've been delivering to for years down there. And this will be more real-time collection and distribution along that part of Georgia.

Ellen Eldridge: Centers for Independent Living are in Tucker, Bainbridge, Savannah, Columbus, Macon, Augusta, Athens, Rome and Demorest. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.

Trae Young

Trae Young

Credit: AP/Seth Wenig, Pool

Story 6:

Peter Biello: In sports: in the NBA, the Atlanta Hawks have lost All-Star point guard Trae Young for at least four weeks with a torn ligament in his left pinky finger. The Hawks announced the injury yesterday. Young was hurt during Friday night's loss to Toronto and will have surgery tomorrow at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. The Young-less Hawks beat the Orlando Magic 109 to 92 last night. Atlanta United lost to the Columbus Crew, 1-nil in an opener on Saturday. In baseball, the Braves lost to the Orioles today as spring training in Florida continues. The loss comes after a win and a loss over the weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox, respectively. And in NASCAR, Daniel Suarez edged Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch in a three-wide finish to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway yesterday. A massive pileup of at least 16 cars on the second lap was the biggest in the history of Atlanta Motor Speedway. That three-way finish was the closest finish at any mile-and-a–half track, and the third-closest cup finish since electronic scoring was established in 1993.

Peter Biello: And that is it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit GPB.org/news And if you haven't subscribed to this podcast yet, do it now. We'll be back in your podcast feed tomorrow. If you've got feedback, we would love to hear from you. Email us at. 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

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