Senate district flipped by new map causes
first-term Democrat to eye House seat

State Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, announced that after seeing the changes the Republican-dominated General Assembly made to her district during reapportionment, she will now campaign for a seat in the state House.
(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Recently approved maps redrawing lines for legislative districts have pushed a first-term Democratic state senator — and the first Asian American woman to serve in the Georgia Senate — to attempt to switch chambers after her seat was drawn in a way that drastically changed its racial and partisan makeup.

State Sen. Michelle Au, a Johns Creek Democrat, said she made the practical decision to switch races and run for the House seat now held by Democratic state Rep. Angelika Kausche, who isn’t seeking reelection.


OPINION: GOP can slow change with redistricting, but they can’t make it stop

March 18, 2021 Atlanta – Asian American lawmakers including Sen. Michelle Au speaks to members of the press during a news conference on the shooting deaths of eight people, six who were Asian women, at spas, at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, March 18, 2021.(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

 

The results of redistricting in Georgia this week have mostly turned out to be the calm after the storm, with the GOP majority giving up a handful of seats to the ascending Democrats, but stopping short of giving away their grip on the reins of either chamber in the General Assembly.

The future House map gives Democrats a new advantage in six seats of the 180-member House, while the Senate map draws at least one new Democratic seat in the 56-seat chamber. But Republicans keep a comfortable amount of breathing room in both. An AJC analysis predicts a 13-seat GOP advantage in the House and an 11-seat margin in the Senate.

“Although Republicans control everything, they have nonetheless given ground, which I think is a realization that the state is indeed changing,” Dr. Charles Bullock said. “Of course the maps haven’t changed as much as Democrats would like to see. But it is a recognition that Republicans probably can’t protect everything that they protect currently.”

Bullock is the UGA political science professor who is the state’s leading expert on redistricting. He’s called past maps examples of parties in power shooting themselves in at least one foot, and sometimes two. But Republicans in 2021 have at least recognized reality, he said.

The reality at hand is the 2020 Census, which showed 1 million new Georgia residents in the last 10 years, and a population that is significantly more diverse, better educated and older than it had been.

The Black population has grown by 13%, the state’s Asian population jumped by 53% and its Hispanic population increased by 32%. The state barely remained majority white, at just over 50%.

Georgia bill that loosens gun laws a ‘slap in the face’ after mass shooting, says senator

Democratic Senator Michelle Au says Bill 218 increases the number of guns in circulation in her state

CBC Radio ·

New Georgia bills proposed following spa shootings would create waiting period for gun purchases

ATLANTA — Three new gun control bills in the Georgia legislature are a direct result of the killings of eight people last week at three spas in metro Atlanta.

The measures would require a five-day waiting period for gun purchases. They will also be next-to-impossible to enact this year. 

About two dozen bills have been floating around the General Assembly this year that would either curb or expand gun rights.  Not a single one of them has gotten a vote in the House or Senate.  

Spa shootings could be first test of Georgia hate crimes law

The murder case against a white man accused of shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law.



Biden addresses deadly Atlanta-area spa shootings

ATLANTA — The murder case against a white man charged with shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses this week could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that the attacks Tuesday at two spas in Atlanta and another massage business near suburban Woodstock were not racially motivated and claimed to have a sex addiction. Authorities said he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation but were still investigating his motive.

Because most of the victims were women of Asian descent, there’s skepticism of that explanation and public clamoring for hate crime charges, especially among the Asian American community, which has faced rising numbers of attacks since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

But, like many states, the Georgia law enacted last summer does not provide for a standalone hate crime, instead allowing an additional penalty when a person is convicted of another crime.

State Sen. Michelle Au Calls On Georgia To Do More To Protect Asian Americans

While the investigation into Tuesday’s shootings is just beginning, state Sen. Michelle Au said on “Morning Edition” that this event is another in a long history of violence against people of Asian descent in this country. CREDIT GEORGIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
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Georgia state Sen. Michelle Au has long been concerned about the safety of Asian Americans here in Georgia, so much so she went before her fellow lawmakers to speak about it Monday.

On Tuesday, there were a series of shootings at massage spas in and around Atlanta — eight people were killed and six of the victims were Asian women. The shootings have not been ruled a hate crime, with police citing suspect Robert Aaron Long’s statement that he was motivated instead by a sexual addiction.

Au spoke to “Morning Edition” host Lisa Rayam about how she sees this incident in the broader context of an ongoing spike of discrimination against Asian Americans related to misinformation about the coronavirus.

GA Democrat warned of anti-Asian violence hours before Atlanta shootings

The day before the deadly shootings across the Atlanta area, Democratic State Senator Dr. Michelle Au spoke out in the state capitol about anti-Asian violence. She joined MSNBC’s Brian Williams to discuss that and more.
 

With the clock ticking, Georgia lawmakers want the state to end daylight saving time

Georgia’s Senate passed a bill that could end Daylight Saving Time.

 
(CNN) Last week, Georgia’s Senate passed a bill 46-7 that would end the state’s observance of daylight saving time.

If enacted, it would mean that Peach State residents would no longer need to prepare for “springing forward” or “falling back” each year. But they would also miss that extra hour of daylight each day between March and October.

The efforts in Georgia follow other states’ attempts to end time changes, but those legislatures have pushed for their states to retain daylight saving time all-year round.

California voted to make daylight saving time permanent in 2018, and Washington did the same in 2019. But federal law would have to change for these measures to take effect.


Feds temporarily halt approval
of Kemp’s Medicaid overhaul

October 15, 2020 Atlanta – Governor Brian Kemp and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma celebrate with fist bump after they signed on healthcare reform at the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, October 15, 2020. The federal government approved Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to reshape Medicaid and individual insurance in Georgia under the Affordable Care Act, the governor and a top Trump administration health official announced on Thursday. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

 
The Biden administration pulled back approval of Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to provide Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income and uninsured adults in Georgia who meet a work or activity requirement because the still-raging coronavirus pandemic make…

How chronic underfunding fueled
Georgia’s Covid-19 vaccine woes

Advocates warn federal support doesn’t offer a permanent solution,
nor will it ease chronic understaffing

 

An emergency room nurse in Savannah receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN RAYFORD/GETTY IMAGES

JANUARY 26, 2021
 

When Amber Schmidtke was a medical school professor in Macon, she started a research project to better understand why so many of the state’s kids were behind on their childhood immunizations. In 2017, Georgia was the slowest state in the nation to get three-year-olds fully vaccinated against infections like measles and whooping cough. Schmidtke found that a major reason for the state’s poor performance was the Georgia Registry of Immunization Transactions and Services—abbreviated, obviously, as GRITS.

Created in 1996, GRITS was initially designed to ensure children statewide were benefiting from federal vaccination programs by tracking immunizations given mostly in pediatricians’ offices and by county health departments. It was built for “more of a trickle than a flood,” says Schmitdke, and was so infrequently used to track adult vaccinations that most internists had no clue how to use it.

Schmidtke wasn’t particularly surprised, then, to hear that during the state’s massive Covid-19 vaccination rollout effort, GRITS had become a particularly gluey cog in the public health machine, its crashes and delays leading to dramatically underreported levels of vaccine administration statewide. But she was stunned when, during a January 19 hearing before the Georgia legislature, health department director Kathleen Toomey requested only minimal additional funding for public health in the 2022 budget.