Ban sought on state vaccine mandates for year

ATLANTA – Georgia senators want to prevent state agencies and local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

They voted 31-19 on Friday to ban such requirements until mid-2023, sending the bill to the House for more debate.

Republicans supporting Senate Bill 345 say the state shouldn’t be able to force the inoculation against the respiratory illness.

Democrats say the GOP is kowtowing to misinformation on vaccines, discouraging a protective measure in a state close to the bottom in vaccination rates.

As amended, the measure excludes health care facilities that are subject to federal mandates for their employees to get vaccinated.

Georgia bill seeks to raise penalties for fleeing police

ATLANTA – Georgia lawmakers are seeking to raise the penalties for people who flee from police.

The House voted 95-62 on Thursday to approve House Bill 1216, sending it the Senate for more debate.

The measure says that anyone convicted of fleeing from the police for a fourth time would be convicted of a felony.

Right now, all offenses of fleeing from police in Georgia are high and aggravated misdemeanors. That’s a category of misdemeanor that carries higher penalties than regular misdemeanors.

Supporters cite more than 500 pursuits conducted by state troopers in metro Atlanta since April 2021.

Georgia House: Ban some race teaching, list parent rights

ATLANTA – Parts of Georgia Republicans’ agenda to increase parental oversight of schools and regulate what they teach on racial issues are moving closer to law.

The state House voted Friday for a bill to ban the teaching of what Republicans label as “divisive concepts.”

They also voted to pass a parental bill of rights they say is needed to increase transparency in schools.

Both bills are an outgrowth of conservative ferment over how schools teach about race, sexual orientation and other subjects.

Democrats say the bills are election season fodder for Republican primary voters. They also fear they aim to lock in a conservative view of society.

Sonny Perdue to make more than $500,000 a year as chancellor

ATLANTA – Former Gov. Sonny Perdue will be paid $523,900 a year when he takes the reins on April 1 as chancellor of the University System of Georgia.

System spokesperson Lance Wallace said that’s the same amount that Steve Wrigley was making as chancellor before retiring last year.

The 19-member Board of Regents voted on Tuesday to hire Perdue to lead the system’s 26 universities and colleges.

Perdue was the first Republican governor of Georgia in more than a century, serving two terms from 2003 to 2011.

He then served as U.S. agriculture secretary under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021.

Georgia’s top courts place time capsule in judicial building

ATLANTA – Judges from Georgia’s top courts have placed a time capsule behind a commemorative plaque in the state’s judicial building.

Supreme Court Chief Justice David Nahmias and Court of Appeals Vice Chief Judge Amanda Mercier put the box in its place near the front entrance of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center on Thursday afternoon.

Nahmias said the placement of the time capsule commemorates the completion of the building’s construction.

Ground was broken for the building, named after former Gov. Nathan Deal, in August 2017 and it was dedicated in February 2020.

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and The Associated Press

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