Georgia Lottery tops $1.5 billion in profits for education

ATLANTA – The Georgia Lottery raised more than $1.5 billion for education during the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Fiscal 2023 marked the eighth consecutive year the lottery surpassed the $1 billion mark in profits for education – specifically the HOPE Scholarships and statewide pre-kindergarten programs – and brought the total transferred to education since the lottery began 30 years ago to more than $26.8 billion.

“With all Georgia Lottery profits benefitting HOPE and Pre-K, these strong results ensure that Georgia’s students and families in every county remain our biggest winners,” said Gretchen Corbin, president and CEO of the Georgia Lottery Corp.

During the last fiscal year, Scratchers and iLottery sales reached record highs. Mega Millions and Powerball played a huge role in lottery sales as well, with four of the top 10 jackpots in U.S. history occurring during the year.

More than 2.1 million students have received lottery-funded HOPE scholarships since the program’s inception, while more than 2 million 4-year-olds have attended voluntary pre-kindergarten classes.

Georgia man sentenced in Jan. 6 attack on U.S. Capitol

ATLANTA – A Georgia man has been sentenced to one year and a day in prison for assaulting a law enforcement officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Bruno Cua, 21, of Milton, also received 36 months of supervised release Wednesday from U.S. District Judge Randolph Moss.

According to stipulated facts, Cua and his parents attended the rally at the Washington Monument that day, then walked to the Capitol. After arriving there, Cua separated from his parents and entered the building armed with the type of baton police typically carry.

After reaching the doors to the Senate Gallery, he assaulted a Capitol Police officer trying to lock the doors by violently shoving him. The officer Cua attacked and fellow officers on the scene retreated from the doors without locking them.

After rushing into the Senate Gallery, Cua jumped to the floor of the chamber, walked to the dais, and sat in the vice president’s chair with his feet propped up on the desk. He was escorted out of the chamber by law enforcement personnel.

Before the attack, Cua made multiple statements on social media about his plans to violently interrupt the proceedings certifying the election of Democrat Joe Biden to the presidency over incumbent Republican Donald Trump.

After Jan. 6, Cua admitted on social media that he took part in the attack using violence and that more violence might be necessary in the future.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Atlanta field office, working with the federal agency’s Washington, D.C., field office and the Capitol Police.

During the 30 months since the attack, at least 1,070 have been arrested in all 50 states. More than 350 have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

Medical cannabis producer opens first dispensary near Savannah

ATLANTA – One of the two medical cannabis manufacturing companies awarded licenses to operate in Georgia thus far opened its first dispensary Wednesday during a dedication ceremony in Pooler.

Botanical Sciences began growing marijuana earlier this year and converting the leafy crop into low-THC cannabis oil at a plant in Glennville.

The General Assembly passed legislation in 2019 legalizing the cultivation of marijuana in Georgia under close supervision and the production of cannabis oil to treat patients suffering from a wide range of diseases.

But state licensing has been slowed by lawsuits from companies that were denied licenses and charged that the selection process was flawed.

“Patients throughout the state have been waiting for this critical form of medicine for years, so being able to provide them with access through our Pooler dispensary is a key milestone for our company,” Gary Long, CEO of Botanical Sciences, said Wednesday.

“We look forward to being part of the Pooler community and offering patients the exceptional treatment, information and service they deserve.”

The state agency that oversees the medical cannabis program has granted Class A manufacturing licenses thus far to Botanical Sciences and Trulieve Georgia, allowing them to grow marijuana in up to 100,000 square feet of indoor space. Four other Class B licenses for 50,000 square feet have yet to be awarded because of the legal conflict.

Trulieve has opened dispensaries in Marietta, Macon, Newnan, and Pooler. Botanical Sciences plans to open five more dispensaries soon in Cobb, DeKalb, Henry, and Richmond counties.

Separate from those dispensaries, the 2019 law also authorizes independent pharmacies to sell cannabis oil to eligible patients.

The list of diseases that qualify patients for cannabis oil includes end-stage cancer, seizure disorders, AIDS, post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Port of Brunswick enjoys banner year

Port of Brunswick

ATLANTA – The Port of Brunswick handled more than 723,500 units of Roll-on/Roll-off cargo during the fiscal year that ended June 30, an all-time high and an increase of 18% over the previous fiscal year.

Most of that record volume was imports, which were up 24% in fiscal 2023, compared to a 7% increase in exports.

“The Port of Brunswick achieved strong growth in the import and export of heavy machinery, while auto manufacturers’ improved microchip supply also meant an increase in vehicles,” said Griff Lynch, president and CEO of the Georgia Ports Authority.

On the other hand, units of containerized cargo handled by the ports of Savannah and Brunswick declined by 6.7% during the last fiscal year from the record high set in fiscal 2022.

However, when compared to the pre-pandemic fiscal year of 2019, containerized cargo volume was up by 20%. The ports’ compound annual growth rate in container units since fiscal 2019 is 4.7%.

“Georgia ports’ steady long-term growth is thanks to outstanding customer service and superior global connections,” ports authority board Chairman Kent Fountain said.

Another highlight of the last fiscal year was record trade at the authority’s Appalachian Regional Port near Chatsworth. The inland terminal handled its highest volumes ever, with 33,700 rail lifts, an increase of more than 18% over fiscal 2022.

Kemp files brief in U.S. Supreme Court case

ATLANTA – Gov, Brian Kemp is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a 1984 ruling that requires federal courts to defer to government agencies’ interpretations of the statutes they enforce.

The justices agreed Monday to hear a case involving the power of the U.S. Commerce Department to require herring fishing operators to pay for federal monitors on their boats.

Kemp has weighed in by filing an amicus – or, “friend of the court” – brief arguing the nearly four decade-old decision in a lawsuit Chevron U.S.A. filed against the Natural Resources Defense Council has been interpreted over the years to take authority away from state agencies, leading to regulatory instability for citizens and businesses.

“As chief executive of the state of Georgia, Governor Kemp knows the damage federal regulations can
have when federal agencies extend their regulatory purview through self-serving statutory interpretations.,” David Dove, Kemp’s executive counsel, wrote in the brief.

“Governor Kemp has a vested interest in ensuring the will of Georgia’s voters is carried out and not undermined by bureaucratic edicts with national effect. He also knows the difficulty of enacting statewide, comprehensive policy measures in the face of unpredictable intrusion by federal agencies into areas traditionally reserved for state power.”

“[The Chevron case] has fundamentally altered Americans’ relationship with the federal government and has enabled agencies to regulate every facet of daily life,” Kemp added. “Overturning [the 1984 ruling] is a critical step towards cutting burdensome regulations and ensuring that Georgia’s policies benefit the will of its citizens and not the dictates of bureaucrats in Washington.”

The 1984 decision’s supporters say an adverse decision in the current case would hamper the Biden administration’s efforts to address key issues such as climate change through regulation.

The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority hasn’t hesitated to overturn long-establishment precedents established by earlier versions of the court, including last year’s ruling overturning the constitutional right to an abortion and – more recently – getting rid of affirmative action in college admissions policies.

The case the Supreme Court plans to take up is a lawsuit Loper Bright Enterprises, a New Jersey-based herring fishing company, filed against Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.