Two maps, two visions: Georgia’s balance of power for next decade hangs in the balance

ATLANTA – Democrats and Republicans will converge at the state Capitol Nov. 3 to begin redrawing Georgia’s congressional districts, a once-a-decade exercise to accommodate population shifts reflected in the U.S. Census.

Both parties are offering vastly different visions for how Georgia should be represented in Congress, with Republicans seeking to maintain their majority in the Peach State’s 14-member U.S. House delegation and Democrats looking to even things up.

Georgia House and Senate Democrats showed their cards Oct. 21 by releasing a proposed congressional map ahead of the special legislative session.

Democrats said their map would provide a fair opportunity for voters of color in Georgia to elect representatives of their choice, as minorities would make up a majority of the residents in six of the 14 districts (Districts 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, and 13).

“We are focused on maps that fairly reflect Georgia,” said state Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta. “We’ve had a lot of growth in minority groups. We believe the maps should reflect these significant changes.”

>> Democrats release their own congressional map ahead of special session

But with Republicans in control of the General Assembly, any map Democrats suggest – whether a congressional map or proposed boundaries for state House and Senate districts – promises to be dead on arrival.

For the GOP, the key question will be whether to try to regain one of the two congressional seats in Atlanta’s northern suburbs lost to the Democrats during the last two election cycles or go for broke and try to take back both seats.

>> Republicans in charge of legislative redistricting, not necessarily in driver’s seat

A congressional map Georgia Senate Republicans released in late September appears to take the more cautious approach. It goes after the 6th Congressional District seat Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, won in 2018 by moving heavily Republican Forsyth County into the district and removing portions of North Fulton and North DeKalb counties more friendly to Democrats.

>> Georgia Senate releases first proposed congressional redistricting map

Brian Robinson, a former top aide to then-Gov. Nathan Deal and a Republican political commentator, said Democratic inroads in recent years have left the GOP without the voting strength to take back both the 6th and 7th district seats.

“We can’t draw 6 and 7 as Republican districts,” he said. “But the opportunity is there to bring back one Republican.”

Earlier this month, the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, along with RepresentUs, a nonpartisan anti-corruption organization, gave the GOP map a “C” on its Redistricting Report Card, based on partisan fairness, competitiveness and geographic features. The organization said its “C” grade means the proposed map is average, and could be better but also worse.  

The same report card gave the Democrats’ map a “B” for partisan fairness and said the map would give a slight partisan advantage to Democrats. It also gave the Democratic map two “C’s” for competitiveness and geographic features.  

“If all levels of government are to be responsive to the needs of Georgians in education, health care, and infrastructure for the next 10 years, the state needs a community-based districting process,” said Jack Genberg, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “So far in this process, the leaders of the Georgia legislature have shown a disdain for the public and their needs. They’ve run a sham process.”

Genberg said legislators scheduled all of their community meetings on redistricting before census numbers were actually released. 

“Legislators made these pre-data, pre-guideline meetings inaccessible to wide swaths of Georgians whose first language is not English, Georgians with mobility issues and other disabilities, those who are hearing impaired, and people unable to attend in-person events during a resurging pandemic or because of work or family obligations,” Genberg said. 

RepresentUS recently ranked Georgia as one of 35 states that are most at-risk for partisan gerrymandering. The organization said risks are high because new election maps can be controlled and drawn by politicians in secret and rigged for partisan gain. It also said so-called “rigged” election maps are hard to challenge in court.

Democrats say their map also is likely to lead to a 7-7 split in Georgia’s congressional delegation. Currently, there are eight Republicans in Congress representing Georgia and six Democrats.

“Georgia has changed significantly over the last decade, and our proposed congressional map reflects that growth,” said U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Columbus. “Georgia voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around, and this map guarantees that.” 

The GOP map was overseen by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and state Sen. John Kennedy, R-Macon, who chairs the Senate Reapportionment and Redistricting Committee.  

“This map not only meets principles of redistricting, but we are proud to present a map that regardless of political party, Georgians can be proud of,” Duncan said when the map was released. “Ensuring that any maps we produce are fair, compact, and keep communities of interest together will continue to be of upmost importance.” 

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation. 

Tributes pour in for longtime Atlanta news anchor Jovita Moore


Jovita Moore, one of metro Atlanta’s longest-tenured news anchors, died overnight after a battle with brain cancer.

Her passing was confirmed by WSB-TV Channel 2, where she had been employed since 1998.

Moore was diagnosed in April 2021 with glioblastoma, a common type of brain cancer. 

Tributes began pouring in across social media upon news of Moore’s passing:

“Georgians’ hearts are heavy today as we mourn the devastating loss of Jovita Moore,” said U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta. “A warm, steady presence in our homes every day, Jovita was for so many of us our link to the city and the world. Jovita was a talented journalist, a loving mother, and a cornerstone of the Atlanta community whose enormous impact was felt far beyond the newsroom. We are lifting up Jovita’s family and WSB-TV colleagues in love and prayer during this time of unimaginable grief.”

Moore is survived by her mother, two children and a stepdaughter.

Moore was a native of New York who earned a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Columbia University graduate school of journalism. She also held a bachelor’s degree from Bennington College in Vermont.

Before joining WSB-TV, the station said she spent time on the air in Memphis at WMC-TV and KFSM in Arkansas.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.  

Kemp announces $110- million violent crime initiative

ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday that $110 million is being dedicated to combat violent crime in the state.

Kemp also announced plans to establish a violent crime task force that, he said, will help local district attorneys with their violence crime casework. 

The funds are coming from money available through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. 

Kemp’s announcement came after a state Senate public safety committee meeting last week, where several metro Atlanta judges and law enforcement officials detailed their efforts and needs in fighting crime throughout the city.  

>> Hours after deadly shooting, Georgia senators hold crime meeting

The committee has been holding meetings and hearings for several weeks, ahead of next week’s special legislative session the governor has called for redistricting.

The $110 million will be used, according to Kemp’s office:

• To provide additional, temporary court staff such as senior judges, bailiffs, court reporters, judicial officers, court staff, and other necessary persons to address the case backlog created by COVID-19.
• To contract with third party locations to conduct court proceedings in larger facilities.
• To pay for additional, temporary prosecutors, investigators, legal administrative positions, and contract legal services.
• To provide additional circuit and conflict attorneys for the Georgia Public Defenders Council.

The funding for the judicial system and prosecuting attorneys will be administered by the Judicial Council of Georgia and its Administrative Office of the Courts. The available grant funding for the Georgia Public Defenders Council will be administered through the Governor’s office.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.  

Major win for Georgia’s two senators: reconciliation bill includes Medicaid expansion

President Joe Biden’s revised – but still massive – infrastructure spending bill includes several major wins for Georgia’s two Democratic U.S. senators.

The $1.75 trillion reconciliation bill was announced late Thursday morning after days of feverish negotiations among Congressional Democrats. 

Notably, according to the White House, tax credits under the ACA will be extended through 2025. The White House said experts predict more than 3 million people who would otherwise be uninsured will gain health insurance. The bill also makes those tax credits available through 2025 to 4 million uninsured people in uncovered states.

Both U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock have been vocal proponents of Medicaid expansion in Georgia. Biden’s Build Back Better proposal includes a provision to close the Medicaid coverage gap in Georgia and the 11 other states where states have refused to expand Medicaid. 

Warnock’s office said the expansion will provide health insurance to about 646,000 Georgians who make too much money to qualify for traditional Medicaid coverage but make too little money to afford coverage on the marketplace.

According to the White House, here are some of the items included in the reconciliation bill now being debated in Congress:

  • Universal preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds. This expands access to free high-quality preschool for more than 6 million children. This is a long-term program, with funding for six years.
  • Limiting of child care costs for families to no more than 7% of income, for families earning up to 250% of state median income. It enables states to expand access to about 20 million children. Parents must be working, seeking work, in training or taking care of a serious health issue. This is a long-term program, with funding for six years.
  • Extend for one year the current expanded child tax credit for more than 35 million American households, with monthly payments for households earning up to $150,000 per year. Make refundability of the Child Tax Credit permanent.
  • Clean energy tax credits ($320 billion): Ten-year expanded tax credits for utility-scale and residential clean energy, transmission and storage, clean passenger and commercial vehicles, and clean energy manufacturing.
  • Resilience investments ($105 billion): Investments and incentives to address extreme weather (wildfires, droughts, and hurricanes, including in forestry, wetlands, and agriculture), legacy pollution in communities, and a Civilian Climate Corps.
  • Investments and incentives for clean energy technology, manufacturing, and supply chains ($110 billion): Targeted incentives to spur new domestic supply chains and technologies, like solar, batteries, and advanced materials, while boosting the competitiveness of existing industries, like steel, cement, and aluminum.
  • Clean energy procurement ($20 billion): Provide incentives for government to be purchaser of next-gen technologies, including long-duration storage, small modular reactors, and clean construction materials.
  • Allow Medicare to cover the cost of hearing.  
  • Housing: $150 billion investment in housing affordability and reducing price pressures, including in rural areas. Funds go toward building more than 1 million new affordable rental and single-family homes, rental and down payment assistance, and public housing.
  • Reduce costs and expand access to education beyond high school by raising the maximum Pell grant, providing support to Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Minority Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges and Universities, and investing in workforce development, including community college workforce programs, sector-based training, and apprenticeships.
  • An earned income tax credit for 17 million low-wage workers.

The White House continues stressing the plan is more than fully paid for by asking the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations to pay their fair share. It does not raise taxes on small business and anyone making less than $400,000 per year. 

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

High-tech semiconductor plant coming to Covington, Newton County

ATLANTA — A $473 million first-of-its-kind semiconductor plant will be opening in Newton County, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced Thursday morning. 

SKC, a subsidiary of SK Group, and several business partners will manufacture glass-based substrates for semiconductor chips in Covington. The venture will create more than 400 new jobs.

The plant will be developed on the SKC property, located at 3000 SKC Drive in Covington. The company will primarily be hiring high-tech engineers, skilled technicians, and other semiconductor field-experienced talent. The company expects to ramp up production by late summer 2023.

A ceremonial memorandum of understanding was signed between the state and SKC solidifying the project and location. After various related work in multiple countries, Dr. Sung Jin Kim, SKC’s director of new business development, served as a research professor at Georgia Tech from 2012-2015. Kim helped develop this glass substrate technology.

SK Group is one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea, and the Covington facility will be its third major investment in Georgia. In addition to the new SKC location, SK Innovation is investing nearly $2.6 billion in developing two battery manufacturing facilities in Jackson County to supply electric vehicles.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.