Sunday Solutions – Feb. 12, 2023
Today marks the 290th year since Georgia was founded as a British colony by James Oglethorpe in 1733. It was administered by trustees under a charter by King George II, whom it was named for. The colony originally banned lawyers, the import and production of rum, Catholicism and slavery. Georgia was the 13th colony to declare independence from England. and the 4th to ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Its motto is Non Sibi Sed Aliis – not for self but for others. As we look at this week’s selections, let’s consider how we’re doing.
Heavier trucks and broken pavement
If you’ve driven in Coastal Georgia, you know first-hand that the number of large trucks continues to grow as the ports expand and warehouse destinations for goods pop up like mushrooms. During the pandemic, the governor’s emergency order allowed heavier trucks to travel on state roads to cut the number of truckloads needed. Last week, the House Transportation Committee approved House Bill 189 to allow heavier truck loads permanently. Agribusiness and timber shippers say it saves them money because they’ll need fewer drivers for fewer truckloads. However, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said the move would cost taxpayers $500 million a year to rebuild state roads damaged by heavier trucks and $7 billion to replace 1,408 bridges that would be posted as unsafe for heavier trucks. This story from Capitol Beat outlines the problems and advantages cited at the 5-hour hearing. The bill heads for the House Rules Committee to set a full vote on the House floor.
- State education funding: The loud drumbeat to update Georgia’s complicated formula for providing money to public schools may need to take a breather. On Friday, the chair of a Senate study committee on the topic told Capitol Beat that it’s unlikely a fix for the 1985 template will arrive this legislative session. While his committee has identified some fixes and there are a few bills planned, Sen. Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton) said the task is just too complex to fix quickly.
- Abortion pill access on the line: Georgia’s Attorney General Chris Carr has joined 22 states in a Texas lawsuit that seeks to block prescriptions for mifepristone and says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval contradicts some of its other regulations, among other arguments. Georgia Recorder wraps up the briefs and the response.
- Seizing opportunities for HBCUs: The Senate Study Committee on Excellence, Innovation and Technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities worked throughout the summer to learn what can keep the institutions healthy. The group held a press conference Thursday to announce they planned to push legislation to partner the institutions with communities in Prosperity Planning Districts that would strengthen the economic opportunities near campuses. Here’s the full message.
- Census complaint winner: In 2021, when Glennville officials saw their Census results, they were missing at least a thousand people from their population — an undercount means there’s less money available from the state and other sources. Last week the Census Bureau agreed, and it added 1,455 people back to the Tattnall County city now that the counter realized Smith State Prison is, indeed, in the official confines of Glennville, population 5,289. The Georgia cities of Chester, Cleveland and Helen also earned revised counts.
- Health care providers and gender transition for students: Senate Bill 141, introduced late last week, would prohibit health care providers, school nurses and others from providing gender-affirming care or counseling to minors. The law would supersede parental rights. It awaits committee assignment. A story from Georgia Recorder describes the discussion. A Pew Research Center survey illustrates how complex the topic is for most Americans. Nearly half of Americans, for example, support making it illegal for medical professionals to provide health care to support gender transition for minors, according to the Pew Research Center survey taken last spring, while 31% said they opposed such efforts. But nearly two-thirds of respondents favor laws to protect transgender people in jobs, housing and public spaces. Here’s a look at the full survey.
Will Coastal Georgia escape recession?
Most economists think there will be some sort of recession later this year but those who follow Coastal Georgia believe our area won’t be hit nearly as hard as it could be. Last week at Jekyll Island, a Brunswick-area audience heard from Benjamin C. Ayers of the University of Georgia and Don Mathews from the College of Coastal Georgia as they presented the annual Georgia Economic Outlook for the lower coast. New industry and jobs growth will propel the entire coast but housing and interest rates will be the barometers for how deep a recession could go. Here’s the slide deck from the presentation.
Coastal Georgia and the world
You don’t have to look further than the nearest warehouse, cargo ship, mobile phone or earthquake coverage on TV to know how important U.S. foreign policy is to our daily lives. For a good breakdown of current policy work, here’s a recent presentation by retired Ambassador David Satterfield from the Jan. 19 meeting of the Savannah Council on World Affairs. Satterfield brings his direct experience as ambassador to Turkey (2019-2022), Egypt and Libya and was Assistant Secretary of State with specific work in the Middle East and elsewhere. He addresses Turkey’s unique situation as the nexus of foreign policy challenges with China, Russia and Iran and the U.S. efforts with the Ukrainian invasion and Putin’s motives. He also gives insight on why this winter may be tough in Ukraine, but next winter could decide it all.
Your second cup: Let’s read!
For coastal book fans, next week is Nirvana as the annual Savannah Book Festival opens with 4 days of authors, new books and discussions. Before that, grab your second cup of coffee and take a look at some thoughts on books and their authors at the festival, from Editor in Chief Margaret Coker and freelance writer and researcher Caitlin Phillippo. The Current loves all things reading, so we’ll be there as a Community Partner sponsor. Look for us at our table at the free events on Saturday when authors, books and readers will be taking over Telfair, Wright and Chippewa squares in Savannah.
DOT commissioner projected growth of freight traffic in Georgia will more than offset any reduction in the number of trucks on the highways that would be possible with heavier trucks.
Legslators say real change will take time and won’t be done this session despite some bills to consider.
The abortion pill, mifepristone, is legal at the federal level, though several GOP states have laws in place that restrict abortion to less than 10 weeks, setting up a dispute between state law and the federal government’s jurisdiction to approve pharmaceuticals.
Districts could help colleges address critical needs and increase engagement from the surrounding communities, including housing, digital infrastructure, small business and workforce development, and environmental and facility upgrades for the institutions and their communities.
Getting the numbers correct means more funding, better estimates for housing and schools, as well as other city services.
Bill would restrict health care providers from prescribing puberty blocking drugs or sex hormones or performing surgery or procedures that “remove any healthy or non-diseased body part or tissue.”
Ahead of the development of the massive Hyundai plant in Bryan County, the Ogeechee Riverkeeper takes the pulse of its beloved recreational waterway.
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