May 18, 2024 11:07 am
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Georgia takes aim at mental health care shortages with new legislation

Georgia is intensifying efforts to tackle its mental health care challenges with new legislation designed to increase the availability of mental health professionals across the state. Representative Sharon Cooper emphasizes the state’s commitment to equalizing access to mental health services, particularly in rural areas, by offering loan repayment incentives to providers working in underserved regions.

Kemp signs bill into law forcing sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia signed a contentious new law on May 1, 2024, mandating that law enforcement agencies notify federal authorities about the arrest of undocumented immigrants, with penalties including loss of state funding and criminal charges for non-compliance. Critics argue the law targets Georgia’s Hispanic community disproportionately and contrasts sharply with previous state efforts towards criminal justice reform.

Earth Day report card: Georgians battle threats to state’s natural wonders year round

Georgia environmentalists mark Earth Day with both celebrations and concerns, as recent policy decisions threaten to undermine the state’s ecological health. Amid ongoing debates, conservation efforts confront challenges from industrial developments and regulatory policies favoring economic interests over environmental preservation.

Rural counties rely on prisons to provide firefighters who work for free

In rural Georgia, incarcerated individuals trained as firefighters and emergency responders are frequently called upon to tackle various emergencies, a practice that began in 1963 and has expanded significantly over the decades. Despite providing crucial support in under-resourced areas, this program faces criticism for potentially exploiting the incarcerated and impacting the job market for professional firefighters.

Georgia Legislature approves coverage to help first responders cope with job-related PTSD treatment

The Ashley Wilson Act, named for Gwinnett police sergeant Ashley Wilson, passed unanimously in the Georgia House of Representatives, aiming to provide supplemental health insurance for first responders diagnosed with PTSD due to on-the-job experiences. This landmark legislation, celebrated for its potential to significantly aid in the recovery and support of traumatized first responders, reflects a broader recognition of PTSD’s serious impact on public safety personnel, promising financial and treatment support beginning January 1, 2025.

FAFSA delays pose challenges for Georgia college-bound students

Students across Georgia are facing delays in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process, particularly challenging due to its late January rollout and additional complications for mixed-status families. Despite these setbacks, the Department of Education has implemented fixes for major issues, and officials, including MorraLee Keller of the National College Attainment Network, urge students not to give up on securing financial aid for college.

Georgia Senate OKs bill to loosen limits on health care facilities, but talks ongoing

The Georgia Senate’s approval of a proposal to relax healthcare business regulations sets the stage for contentious negotiations, as Democrats vow to oppose it unless it includes full Medicaid expansion. While Republicans push forward, concerns linger among GOP lawmakers, highlighting the ongoing debate over healthcare access in the state.

Restricting farm property ownership by ‘foreign adversary’ a step backwards for Georgia

With legislation that conflates national security with xenophobia, Georgia’s House Bill 1093 (folded March 12 into Senate Bill 132) and Senate Bill 420 would restrict certain individuals’ and businesses’ ability from owning, renting, or otherwise holding real property throughout Georgia. While many immigrant groups would be harmed with these bills’ passage, proponents openly target people and businesses from China.