LISTEN: On the Thursday, March 28 edition of Georgia Today: Lawyers for Donald Trump were in a Fulton County courtroom again today; Macon-Bibb County wants access to your doorbell cameras; 17 North Georgia counties have been declared natural disaster areas because of severe drought conditions.

GA Today Podcast


Orlando Montoya: Hello and welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Thursday, March 28. I'm Orlando Montoya. On today's episode, former President Trump's lawyers were in a Fulton County courtroom again today. The Macon-Bibb County Sheriff's Office wants to access your doorbell camera, and 17 North Georgia counties have been declared natural disaster areas because of severe drought conditions. These stories and more coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.  


Story 1

Orlando Montoya: The end of Georgia's two-year legislative session has arrived. Today is the last day for bills to pass both the House and Senate or die as this term ends. As of this recording, there were many closely watched bills that were still undecided, including bills to legalize sports betting, tighten rules on immigration, and provide property tax relief, among others. GPB's Lawmakers will have a 1-hour special on the General Assembly's last day, which you can watch tonight at seven on your GPB-TV station. You can also find that online at, after that episode posts. And we'll also have the latest at, and tomorrow on Morning Edition — and on another episode of Georgia Today. So GPB has you covered from the state legislature.


Story 2

Orlando Montoya: Lawyers for former President Donald Trump told a Georgia court today the charges against him in the state's election interference case seek to criminalize political speech. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee heard motions in the case, including one seeking to dismiss the charges against Trump. The former president's lawyer said Trump's comments delegitimizing the election were, quote, "the height of political speech." Attorney Steve Sadow represented Trump, who was not present for today's hearing.

Steve Sadow: But for protected First Amendment speech. President Trump would not be charged in RICO or the other counts. Take out the protected speech, and you don't have an underlying basis for which to charge him.

Orlando Montoya: Prosecutors pushed back against that argument, saying Trump speech was not protected because he was part of a criminal organization. Attorney Donald Wakeford represented state prosecutors, being led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.

Donald Wakeford: It's not just that he lied over and over and over again, it's that each of those was employed as part of criminal activity with criminal intentions.

Orlando Montoya: McAfee forged ahead with the hearing, even as Trump and other defendants are seeking to disqualify Willis from leading the prosecution. The judge ended the hearing without making a ruling.


A Ring video doorbell is displayed during the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 7, 2015. Photo by Steve Marcus/REUTERS

Story 3

Orlando Montoya: The Macon Bibb County Sheriff's Office is asking people who own doorbell cameras and other surveillance systems to join a new program, giving officers easier access to the footage. GPB's Grant Blankenship reports.

Grant Blankenship: The new effort, called Operation Safer Together, is modeled on a program from the Atlanta Police Department. It's aimed at filling in gaps in local government's own network of cameras, which are mostly in downtown Macon and in public housing. Capt. Jason Batchelor leads the Bibb County Sheriff's Office criminal intelligence unit. He says putting your camera and contact information on the list does not necessarily give him instant access to your footage.

Jason Batchelor: It's just allowing us to know, in which areas there is footage or there is surveillance coverage, to provide us an opportunity to reach out to you if there's a crime that has occurred in that area.

Grant Blankenship: But there is a program option to grant investigators direct access to camera feeds, like 3,000 addresses have done in the Atlanta program. For GPB News, I'm Grant Blankenship in Macon.


Story 4

Orlando Montoya: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a natural disaster for 17 North Georgia counties because of severe drought conditions. The announcement today means farmers in those counties and 18 contiguous counties are eligible for emergency loans. The drought impacted the growing season most intensely in November, when much of North Georgia experienced moderate to exceptional dry conditions.


Story 5

Orlando Montoya: Georgians have until April 2 to make sure their homes, businesses and neighborhoods are accurately represented on a map of areas that lack high-speed internet access. The Georgia Broadband Office will use the map, once it's officially approved later this year, to direct more than $1 billion in federally funded broadband investments. Courtney Dozier of the National Telecommunications and Information Agency says if the map is not correct, local governments and nonprofit organizations can challenge it.

Courtney Dozier: The challenge process is the way that we — and in this case, "we" being folks in Georgia, — can ensure that their map is accurate. The map is going to be what drives the Georgia officials to figure out who needs connections and where around the state.

Orlando Montoya: The map can be viewed at


A police officer holds a box of Narcan out the driver side window of his police car.

Jackson Township Police Sergeant Tim Amrhein shows a box of Narcan, a drug used to treat opioid overdose, that was deployed to one of the safety officers at one of the nearby Seneca Valley Schools, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, in Jackson Township, Butler County, Pa.

Credit: (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Story 6

Orlando Montoya: Harm reduction advocates are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Georgia's medical amnesty law. That's the law that encourages drug users and those around them to call for help when someone is experiencing an overdose. GPB's Ellen Eldridge reports.

Ellen Eldridge: Narcan — or naloxone — will stop an opioid overdose. That's why harm reduction advocates want people who use drugs to carry Narcan nasal spray. Andy Gish is with Georgia Overdose Prevention. She says 10,000 reported opioid overdoses were reversed in Georgia in the last decade.

Andy Gish: Of course, we know many people are not reporting to us, so those are just the people that are reported to us. But, you know, the true heroes of the story are those people, people who are maybe newly in recovery or in recovery or people who are currently out there using drugs, who are saving their friends.

Ellen Eldridge: Gish says they have trained more than 65,000 laypeople on how to use Narcan. For GPB News, I'm Ellen Eldridge.


Story 7

Orlando Montoya: Home Depot is buying Texas-based materials provider SRS distribution in a deal valued at $18 billion. The Atlanta-based retail giant says the move, announced today, is aimed at speeding up its growth with professional contractors. It's Home Depot's largest-ever acquisition and a big bet on the housing market, currently suffering a severe lack of new construction.


Story 8

Orlando Montoya: Here's the fact that I didn't know: The Georgia Department of Agriculture has a lab where they test every type of seed sold in Georgia to ensure the overall quality of Georgia's crops. That seed lab is in Tifton, Ga., and it's the subject of this week's episode of the Fork in the Road podcast from GPB.

Dee Dee Smith: But you can see when you walk in this chamber, you get a nice layer of moisture in here. And these samples have been in here for a few days.

David Zelski: Once the seed samples have spent some time in the walk-in chambers, it's time to do the inspecting.

Dee Dee Smith: So what we're looking for is you look for abnormalities. You want to know what's a normal seedling, an abnormal seedling. So we take them out and we look at the growth here.

Orlando Montoya: In this episode, you'll learn how the Tifton Seed Lab contributes to Georgia's No.1 industry that is agriculture. Find GPB's A Fork in the Road podcast at or wherever you get your podcasts.


Story 9

Orlando Montoya: Some developments now in a story we've been following about plans for a multi-billion dollar sports entertainment complex aimed at luring the NHL back to Atlanta. Those plans are now in doubt. Commissioners in Forsyth County, north of Atlanta, approved a bond agreement for the project on Tuesday. But Wednesday, the developer, Vernon Krause, said he was shocked and disappointed by last-minute changes to the deal. He's now reevaluating the entire deal. A separate effort to bring an NHL team back to the Atlanta area is being led by former hockey player Anson Carter.


Story 10

Orlando Montoya: Tomorrow is an official state holiday, Good Friday, and so lots of people will be getting a three-day weekend, including many of us on the staff at Georgia Today. So we want to bring you our look at weekend events today. And it is Easter weekend. Spring is poppin', the weather looks like it's going to be great. and so there are many events we want to draw your attention to. Let's talk about Spring Downtown in Hahira. That event is on Saturday. Also on Saturday you'll find Another Bloomin' Festival in Metter. And in Albany they have the 229 Day Festival and Car Show. In Sandy Springs, north of Atlanta, Artsapalooza is going on all weekend, and tonight in Savannah begins the Savannah Music Festival. Now that is an event that will run all the way through April 13, with many great concerts and shows. Tomorrow night in Savannah, the host of GPB's Peach Jam Podcast, Jeremy Powell, will be at the Lucas Theater for the Arts, where Athens natives T. Hardy Morris and the Futurebirds will be performing as part of the Savannah Music Festival.

And that's it for today's edition of Georgia Today. If you'd like to learn more about these stories, visit And if you haven't yet, hit subscribe on this podcast. Take a moment right now and keep us current in your podcast feed. If you have feedback, we'd love to hear that from you. Email us at

I'm Orlando Montoya. We'll be back again on Monday with another episode of Georgia Today.