LISTEN: On the Monday, June 24 edition of Georgia Today: New federal legislation aims to strengthen the Pell Grant Program; lawmakers prepare to debate the definition of a navigable river or stream; and U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff explains why abortion is not just a so-called "women's issue."

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Peter Biello: Welcome to the Georgia Today podcast from GPB News. Today is Monday, June 24. I'm Peter Biello. On today's episode: New federal legislation aims to strengthen the Pell Grant program. Lawmakers prepare to debate the definition of a navigable river or stream. And second gentleman Doug Emhoff explains why abortion is not just a so-called "women's issue." These stories and more are coming up on this edition of Georgia Today.

Earning a College Degree is More Expensive than Ever

Story 1:

Peter Biello: Legislation introduced by Georgia's Sen. Raphael Warnock aims to strengthen Pell Grants for low income students. The Pell Grant Preservation and Expansion Act would tie Pell Grants to inflation. It also would increase the maximum award for those seeking post-secondary education. This year, the maximum award is about $7,400. The proposed legislation would gradually increase that to $14,000 by 2030. The act also would make Pell Grant funding fully mandatory to protect it from funding shortfalls, expand the program to include Dreamers and restore lifetime eligibility for the program to 18 semesters.


Story 2:

Peter Biello: A Florida woman has filed a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against a luxury resort company operating on coastal Georgia's privately owned Sea Island, near Brunswick. GPB's Benjamin Payne reports.

Benjamin Payne: Kathleen Pinto alleges she was fired from her seasonal restaurant job at the Sea Island Beach Club in 2021, shortly after informing a chef she was pregnant. According to Pinto's legal complaint, her supervisor told resort management that it could not have a pregnant cook. The lawsuit was filed against Sea Island Resort LLC in Brunswick federal court. The company did not respond to GPB's request for comment. Pinto also alleges she was forced to leave her on site housing and was rendered, quote, "effectively homeless." A separate federal lawsuit was filed by Pinto in Florida against an Orlando-based staffing agency, which arranged her job placement on Sea Island. In both cases, Pinto is requesting backpay, financial damages and a trial by jury. For GPB News, I'm Benjamin Payne.


Story 3:

Peter Biello: A Georgia House Study Committee this summer will begin to answer a question brought on by a bill passed this legislative year: What counts as a navigable river or stream? The General Assembly passed a bill this spring guaranteeing the right to fish in the state's navigable rivers and streams. But experts say there's a lack of clarity over what's navigable and what's not. The study committee will have to make a recommendation to the full House by Dec. 1.


Story 4:

Peter Biello: A federal appeals court has ordered a lower court to resentenced Julie Chrisley for her conviction on bank fraud and tax evasion. Chrisley and her husband, Todd, of the reality show Chrisley Knows Best, are serving prison sentences after being convicted in 2022. On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled the trial judge made a legal error in calculating Julie Chrisley's sentence by holding her accountable for fraud committed in 2006 without evidence. There was evidence linking her to fraud starting in 2007.



Story 5:

Peter Biello: Today marks two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and upheld Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. GPB's Sarah Kallis reports on how leaders on both sides of the issue are acknowledging the anniversary.

Sarah Kallis: The Dobbs decision allowed states to create their own laws around abortion, meaning Georgia's six-week abortion ban was able to go into effect a few months later. Kwajelyn Jackson, the executive director of the Feminist Women's Health Center in Atlanta, says since then, the facility often has to deny abortion procedures to patients.

Kwajelyn Jackson: It never gets less heartbreaking to turn someone away from care that they so desperately want and need.

Sarah Kallis: Meanwhile, Claire Bartlett, the executive director of the anti-abortion organization Georgia Life Alliance, is celebrating the anniversary.

Claire Bartlett: We still feel like we have a lot of work cut out for us, and we will continue down the path of educating folks on when life begins.

Sarah Kallis: Georgia lawmakers have not indicated whether they will push to further restrict abortion access in the state. For GPB News, I'm Sarah Kallis in Atlanta.


Story 6:

Peter Biello: Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a landmark decision that had guaranteed the right to an abortion on the federal level for nearly 50 years. The aftermath of the ruling has left a patchwork of bans and restrictions across the country, including here in Georgia. The issue of abortion has become a pivotal factor in the 2024 election. While the debate around abortion often focuses on women's rights, the U.S. second gentleman, Doug Emhoff, says it should be an important factor for men as well. He spoke with GPB's Pamela Kirkland to delve deeper into the topic and its implications.

Doug Emhoff: Two years ago, the Dobbs decision came down. And as a lawyer, it's based on — it's an attack on our right of privacy; all of our rights of privacy. So there was a case before Roe called Griswold, which established a right of privacy. Roe was based on that. And it's basically the government shouldn't be involved in things that happen inside your house, inside of your bedroom, inside your medicine cabinet. And this is a major assault not only on women's reproductive freedom, but on all of our freedoms, because the attack, again, is based on that right of privacy. And as Justice Thomas pointed out in the concurring opinion of Dobbs — which was the case that overturned Roe — questioning aloud, saying the quiet part out loud, is: What's next? What else can we go after that's based on this Griswold right of privacy? So contraception, who you can marry, what you can read, who you can love. And all those things that we thought we were taking for granted are now at risk because of this, I think, completely wrongly decided Dobbs decision.

Pamela Kirkland: Access to abortion has become increasingly limited, and especially here in the South. With restrictive laws already on the books, what role can the federal government play in terms of changing it?

Doug Emhoff: Well, first and foremost, we have an election coming up, in four months or so. We need to make sure Joe Biden and Kamala Harris get reelected, because make no mistake, this ... this situation was caused by Donald Trump. Donald Trump ran on overturning Roe v. Wade. He himself said women should be punished. He appointed three justices who did exactly that. And that's why we're in the situation we're in. So people need to understand the connection between who is president and who is on the Supreme Court and who is on the Supreme Court dictates these fundamental rights. So in this next election, there could be several seats on the Supreme Court open. So if people value their privacy, their freedom, their reproductive rights, there's only one decision, which is to reelect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris so they can remediate that. The federal government can do so much through executive order. We're trying to do everything we can. But at the end of the day, we need to have a Congress that is willing to reflect the will of the vast majority of people in this country who support freedom, support reproductive rights, and have a Congress that will codify Roe v. Wade. And that's — that's what we need to have as well.

Pamela Kirkland: You've been to Georgia to speak on this issue. Your wife, the vice president, has also been here a couple of times to speak on the issue. How prominently do you think that abortion and reproductive rights are going to play in the 2024 election?

Doug Emhoff: I think it's a massive issue. We've already seen elections over the last couple of years where this has been on the ballot, including in — in so-called red states. And every one of those elections over the last couple of years, an overwhelming 65%, 70%, 75%, if not more, have voted for freedom, have voted for reproductive freedom against these restrictions that just keep getting worse, left to the states. I was in Georgia, recently, and I was — I was really happy and proud to speak with a group of men — young men who care about this issue. They care about it because it's just wrong. It's wrong that women are treated less than, but they also understand that all these other rights are impacted, and that's why they're out there fighting. And so between now and the election, I'm going to continue to use this microphone to encourage all of us, men included, to get in this fight. It's — again, it's just a fight for freedom.

Pamela Kirkland: What role do you see men playing as far as abortion rights go and advocating for abortion rights?

Doug Emhoff: So men — again, this is not just a woman's issue, so-called women's issue, because when you think about it, if you — So some of the stories we've seen: Amanda Zurawski, for instance. She was married, was trying to have a child in Texas, and almost died of sepsis. Similar ban — six-week ban that you have in Georgia. And so I did an event with her husband where he was talking about the impact on him and trying to just have a family. I have a son who's 29, just got married. His wife is from Texas. And if they're thinking about moving to Texas, well, think again. Six-week ban, same as Georgia. So it's impacting men and women equally. And then when you extrapolate it out to other freedoms at stake which apply to men and women, everyone needs to care about this.

Peter Biello: That was second gentleman Doug Emhoff speaking with GPB's Pamela Kirkland.



Story 7:

Peter Biello: Gas prices continue to drop in Georgia. The state's average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $0.02 less than it was a week ago, and $0.12 less than it was a month ago. AAA credits the drop to reduced demand, rising supply and low crude oil prices. Georgia's average price is dropping as the national average held steady at $3.44 a gallon.


Story 8:

Peter Biello: An exhibit about the life, achievements and contributions of Andrew Young, the first African American U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and an invaluable aide to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will go on display tomorrow at the University of Mississippi. The traveling exhibit is created by the National Monuments Foundation. It chronicles Young's life through photographs, memorabilia and his own words, based on the book The Many Lives of Andrew Young by Ernie Suggs. The exhibit is open to the public starting tomorrow through July 31.

High Museum

High Museum

Story 9:

Peter Biello: The High Museum of Art in Atlanta this summer, is presenting a major solo exhibition of Atlanta-born artist Tyler Mitchell. Mitchell rose to prominence in 2018 when he photographed Beyoncé for Vogue's September issue at age 23. Mitchell was the first Black artist to shoot the cover in the magazine's history. The exhibition, titled Idyllic Spaces, blends Mitchell's fashion work and conceptual photography, examining themes of family, domesticity, play, rest and the natural world. That's according to curator Maria Kelly.

Maria Kelly: So he has this really nuanced way of addressing very important and real societal issues, but putting it in these beautiful landscapes. They draw you in, and then you start thinking about the more, you know, deeper, substance in the image that you're seeing.

Peter Biello: Idyllic Spaces is on display at the High Museum until Dec. 1.


Story 10:

Peter Biello: In sports: A brutally efficient first half from the New York Liberty put the Atlanta Dream in a scoring hole they couldn't dig out of yesterday. Final score from College Park was 96 to 75. Dream head coach Tanisha Wright says the team needed to get back to basics.

Tanisha Wright: We have to be able to be better at the basic things of basketball. Those are things that, as a coaching staff, I can't necessarily help them do.

Peter Biello: The Dream are 6 and 9 for the season and have lost seven of their last 10 games. They face the Connecticut Sun on Friday on the road.

And in baseball, the Atlanta Braves head to St. Louis today to face the Cardinals for the first of a three-game series. They're coming off a two games to one series win over the Yankees in New York. Braves catcher Travis d'Arnaud says Atlanta's bats can be explosive.

Travis d'Arnaud: It's been great to see them string along some great at-bats and string together innings of huge runs and and obviously having each other's back throughout the whole thing.

Peter Biello: Spencer Schwellenbach is scheduled to get the start for the Braves tonight.


Peter Biello: And that's it for this edition of Georgia Today. If you want to learn more about any of these stories, visit And if you haven't yet, subscribed to this podcast, take a moment and do it now. It'll keep us current in your podcast feed. If you've got feedback, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email. The address is I'm Peter Biello. Thank you so much for listening. We'll see you tomorrow.


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