Sunday Solutions – Jan. 8, 2023
Here we go: The University of Georgia Bulldogs football team goes for a repeat national championship on Monday against the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian University, and who doesn’t like saying “Dawgs vs. Frawgs”? But no matter who wins, there’s other life after Monday night. Really.
What should legislators focus on?
Georgia legislators gather Monday to start a new session under state capitol’s gold dome. They likely won’t gather for long since some have to fly to that big game on the west coast and others likely have a party date related to it somewhere on this side of the continent. But after Monday’s drama on the field, they must buckle down. So we’ll take this opportunity to see what you think they need to focus on. Here’s a quick 2-minute survey to gauge your priorities for your elected representatives: Click here. We’ll put them together, let you know what people said and then we’ll see how they stack up to what gets done.
Last October, the Georgia News Collaborative asked likely voters across the state about a few hot topics. Here’s a reminder of some of the answers:
- How should the state use its record budget surplus? A clear majority of voters — 58.5% — said the state should increase spending.
- Legalize casino gambling: 59.7% support it. Only one group’s percentage fell below 50%: People who earn less than $25,000 a year.
- Legalize online betting on sports events: A tie: 45.6% support and 42.6% do not while 11.8% don’t know. Betting fever was higher among males, people ages 18-44 and those who earn $100,000-$149,000 a year.
Work protections for pregnant women
The recent federal spending law was called an omnibus for a reason: It’s got a diverse group of passengers, and those include pregnant women and new mothers who needed workplace protections. The new measures go into effect in June for women working in businesses that employ 15 or more people. The law mandates reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers. They can’t be automatically denied the opportunity to sit while working or take additional bathroom breaks among other things. The bipartisan legislation closed loopholes that left out 9 million women and fills some coverage gaps.
A record of who we are
If you believe knowing where we’ve been and how the paths were paved for us matters, then you’ll want to know more about the City of Savannah’s Community Memory Project organized by the stellar Municipal Archives group.
The project aims to preserve and make accessible histories of communities missing from the city’s archives to present an inclusive historical narrative of Savannah. The staff invites residents to share stories through voice, images and documents that will be added to the city’s collective memory and available to all who seek it. A series of events is set to help with that. The next one is for District 6 residents at the Crusader Community Center, 81 Coffee Bluff Villa Road, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 20 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan 21.
No matter where you live, if you have Savannah information or want to record a memory for the city archive, call (912) 651-6412 or email Archives@savannahga.gov. You can join the project at this link and upload documents or photos. They are currently especially looking for documentation related to neighborhoods, community groups, historical sites and food traditions in Savannah.
- Cities and waterfronts. Coastal Georgia is blessed with 100 miles of shoreline on rivers, marsh and the ocean. Some cities and towns have used that to an advantage for tourism and housing over the last 3 centuries and some haven’t, putting heavy industry along the tidelines. A story from Governing assesses what has worked and what hasn’t and points to consider as cities and towns work to grow their natural water assets.
- Rail crossings and the Supreme Court: 18 states are asking the nation’s highest court to help a growing problem of long trains crossing highways that serve emergency first responders. Rail lines are a conundrum for growing cities and and port areas. Georgia isn’t one of the states involved, but the topic is a daily discussion as trains cross near schools in Richmond Hill, neighborhoods and major arteries in Savannah and Brunswick. Longer trains leaving the Port of Savannah are often close to two miles long.
- More broadband for rural Georgia: Money was officially awarded last week to add and expand broadband for 28 more Georgia counties. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff announced the federal grants after the Congressional omnibus bill passed in recent weeks; Gov. Brian Kemp announced the awards with the specifics last week. It doesn’t matter who’s responsible or if the catalyst was to benefit more businesses coming to the state, but it does matter that the hard lessons learned about the state’s weak broadband network during the pandemic are getting attention. This will certainly benefit students who require online access for their foundational learning more than ever before.
Your second cup: Adult education
In Coastal Georgia, new industry and small businesses are competing for workers at the highest rate ever. They are having a hard time filling the growing numbers of openings with limited applicants. One reason for the national worker shortage is a sad one: 48 million American adults struggle to read basic English, according the National Center for Education Statistics. That may leave them unable to find and keep a decent job, navigate the signage on city streets, follow medical instructions and vote. They’re vulnerable to scams and face stigma and shame. Over the past year, ProPublica reporters have found the main remedy is spectrum of adult education initiatives, and they found the infrastructure for it to be inadequate and failing. The reporters talked to experts about examples of local and national programs finding success and others working to change the status quo. As we send our legislators back to work and welcome new companies to town, here’s the link to their findings and recommendations.
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