ATLANTA – A state law requiring lactation care providers to obtain a license is unconstitutional, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday.
The case goes back to 2016, when the General Assembly passed legislation requiring a state license to offer lactation care and limiting licenses to businesses that obtain a privately issued certification as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
Certified lactation consultant Mary Jackson of Fulton County and a nonprofit organization known as Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere sued the Georgia secretary of state’s office, claiming the law violated their rights to due process and equal protection because it would require them to cease practicing their chosen profession.
The suit also maintained the law lacked any substantive connection to public health or safety and that there was no evidence to show non-IBCLC lactation care providers had ever harmed the public.
In Wednesday’s ruling, Chief Justice Michael Boggs reversed the trial court’s decision, which had been in favor of the state, and found in favor of the plaintiffs.
“Not every burden on the ability to pursue a lawful occupation will be unconstitutional,” Boggs wrote. “Sometimes, a regulation will be ‘rational’ in the sense that it is reasonably necessary. … But if the challenger can establish that a regulation imposing restrictions on a lawful occupation does not advance the articulated public purpose by means that are reasonably necessary for that purpose, then the regulation cannot stand.”
While Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger technically lost the case as the head of the agency that was sued, he praised the ruling Wednesday. Raffensperger said he voted against the 2016 legislation while serving as a Republican member of the Georgia House of Representatives.
Raffensperger argued that prohibiting consultants from providing lactation care without going through the process of obtaining a license may actually cause “a greater risk of harm because the majority of lactation consultant providers would no longer be able to provide care.”
Raffensperger recently formed a commission to undertake a comprehensive review of the professions that require a license in Georgia and whether licensing is necessary for that line of work.
ATLANTA – The Georgia Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit five University System of Georgia professors brought challenging a 2017 amendment to state law that did away with a ban on weapons on public college and university campuses.
The plaintiffs filed the suit in Fulton County Court, claiming the 2017 amendment that decriminalized carrying or possessing weapons on university system campuses was unconstitutional because lawmakers were usurping the Board of Regents’ authority to govern the university system.
The trial court dismissed the lawsuit, prompting the plaintiffs to take their case to the state Supreme Court.
In Wednesday’s unanimous decision, the high court ruled the lawsuit moot because the regents adopted weapons-carrying policies consistent with the amendment after the General Assembly passed it.
“Granting the only relief the professors seek – a declaration that the 2017 amendment … constituted a separation-of-powers violation – would not eliminate the harm of which the professors complain because it would not eliminate the immediate source of that alleged harm – the weapons policy adopted by the board,” Justice John J. Ellington wrote for the court.
Ellington went on to write that the regents’ motivation for enacting the weapons policy is irrelevant. All that matters is that the board adopted the policy and was within its legal authority to do so, he wrote.
ATLANTA – A Finnish company that specializes in industrial manufacturing of buildings will construct its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Waycross, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Wednesday.
ADMARES will invest $750 million in the plant, which is expected to create more than 1,400 jobs.
“Projects like this prove that in every part of the state, Georgia has what job creators look for,” Kemp said. “This project will not only bring more opportunities to hardworking Georgians, it will help innovate the home building industry at a time when we need more rural workforce housing.”
ADMARES specializes in the mass production of buildings using proprietary technology. Its buildings have been used in both the residential and hospitality sectors. The company will work in partnership with Porsche Consulting, MHP – a Porsche company – and Siemens.
“With the rise of modern industrialization practices, we have combined our expertise to create a revolutionary robotic-driven manufacturing process that allows entire buildings to be manufactured at a factory rather than on a traditional construction site,” said Mikael Hedberg, founder and CEO of ADMARES. “With our advanced technology, we are adopting successful practices that are common in other advanced industries.”
Hedberg said Waycross is an ideal location for the plant because of the area’s easy access to the Port of Brunswick as well as major highways and rail connections.
ADMARES will be hiring for positions in administration, management, engineering, IT, logistics, assembly, robotics maintenance and production. Interested individuals can learn more by visiting www.admares.com.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development worked on the project with the Waycross and Ware County Development Authority, Georgia Power and the Technical College System of Georgia’s Quick Start program.
ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp won’t be on the ballot next year, but his leadership committee will be hard at work.
The Georgians First Leadership Committee (GFLC) announced a six-figure voter contact campaign Wednesday on behalf of Republican candidates in competitive legislative districts.
Kemp won a second term in office last November, while Republicans maintained control of both the state House and Senate.
“Following resounding victories at the ballot box last year, Governor Kemp delivered on his campaign promises this legislative session,” said Cody Hall, senior advisor to the committee.
“Working with the General Assembly, Governor Kemp enacted nearly $2 billion in tax relief, signed new measures to go after criminal street gangs and keep our communities safe, restored the HOPE Scholarship to cover all tuition costs, and raised teacher pay for the third time since taking office. GFLC will be sharing those accomplishments with voters.”
The voter contact campaign will target six House districts currently represented by Republicans but considered vulnerable:
— House District 48, represented by Rep. Scott Hilton of Peachtree Corners.
— House District 53, a seat held by Rep. Deborah Silcox of Sandy Springs.
— House District 99, represented by Rep. Matt Reeves of Duluth.
— House District 117, a seat held by Rep. Lauren Daniel of Locust Grove.
— House District 151, represented by Rep. Mike Cheokas of Americus.
— House District 154, a seat held by Rep. Gerald Greene of Cuthbert.
The committee also is going after Democratic incumbents in the following five districts:
— House District 50, represented by Rep. Michelle Au of Johns Creek.
— House District 105, a seat held by Rep. Farooq Mughal of Dacula.
— House District 108, represented by Rep. Jasmine Clark of Lilburn.
— Senate District 7, a seat held by Sen. Nabilah Islam of Lawrenceville.
— Senate District 14, represented by Sen. Josh McLaurin of Sandy Springs.
Republicans in the General Assembly created eight leadership committees two years ago to be chaired by Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor, the general-election nominees opposing those two statewide incumbents and the heads of the majority and minority caucuses of the state House of Representatives and Senate.
Leadership committees can raise and spend unlimited contributions and accept donations throughout the year, including during the General Assembly sessions.
Legislative Democrats opposed leadership committees, arguing that allowing unlimited campaign contributions would increase the influence of special interests in Georgia politics.
However, both Kemp and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams made good use of their legislative committees last year. By the November election, the two committees had combined to raise nearly $100 million.
ATLANTA – Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has dementia, according to a statement the Carter Center released Tuesday.
“She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones,” the statement read.
Tuesday’s announcement came just more than three months after former President Jimmy Carter entered hospice care at the Carters’ home in Plains. Jimmy Carter is 98 and the longest living former president in U.S. history, while Rosalynn Carter is 95.
The statement noted that Mrs. Carter has been a leading mental health advocate going all the way back to the early 1970s, when she was Georgia’s first lady while her husband served as governor. One in 10 older Americans have dementia, a condition characterized by memory impairment and a progressive loss of intellectual functioning.
“We recognize, as she did more than half a century ago, that stigma is often a barrier that keeps individuals and their families from seeking and getting much-needed support,” the Carter Center statement read. “We hope sharing our family’s news will increase important conversations at kitchen tables and in doctor’s offices around the country.”
The statement also noted Mrs. Carter’s work as founder of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.
The Carter Center announced in February that President Carter had begun receiving hospice care at home, news that touched off a flurry of media articles looking back at his life as a peanut farmer turned Democratic politician followed by decades of service after leaving the White House as a human rights advocate and affordable housing volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.
“We do not expect to comment further and ask for understanding for our family and for everyone across the country serving in a caregiver role,” the statement read.
ATLANTA – The first of two additional nuclear reactors Georgia Power is building at Plant Vogtle has safely reached 100% power, a key milestone toward getting the unit into full commercial operation.
For the first time, Unit 3 at the plant south of Augusta has reached its expected output of about 1,100 megawatts, enough electricity to power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses.
“Unit 3 is currently undergoing testing through the full range of plant operations, including safely running at various power levels and operating through real-life conditions,” Kim Greene, Georgia Power’s chairman, president and CEO, said Monday.
“As we enter the final stages of startup testing, reaching 100% power for the first time is an exciting milestone. It tells us we’re close to finishing the unit safely and bringing it online to power Georgia homes and businesses with reliable, emissions-free energy for decades to come.”
The Plant Vogtle expansion has taken a long path to get to this point. The state Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the project back in 2009, but a series of delays drove up the cost to more than double the original anticipated price tag of $14 billion.
Critics have urged the PSC to jettison the project and more aggressively pursue other sources of power generation including renewable energy. Georgia Power officials have countered that nuclear power is the most efficient way to ensure its 2.7 million customers will enjoy reliable energy for the next 60 to 80 years.
Once all startup testing on Unit 3 is successfully completed, it will enter commercial operation. That’s expected to happen next month.
The other new reactor under construction at Plant Vogtle, Unit 4, is due to go into commercial service late this year or early next year.
Southern Nuclear will operate the two units on behalf of co-owners Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG Power and Dalton Utilities.
Units 1 and 2 at the plant began operating during the late 1980s.