News Briefs: Early voting begins for Ga.’s primary runoffs
ATLANTA (AP) - Early voting has begun for Georgia’s primary runoffs, including a closely watched battle between two Republicans vying for the state’s open Senate seat. The in-person early voting period began Monday and runs through July 18. The election is July 22. Those who didn’t vote in the primary are still eligible to vote in the runoff and can select either a Republican or Democratic ballot. Those who voted in the primary, however, are required to cast a ballot with the same party. The Senate race is among a dozen being watched nationally as Republicans seek control of the Senate. Republicans Jack Kingston and David Perdue are on the ballot, and the winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in the fall.
More information on early voting locations is available at http://www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Ga. schools resist arming teachers despite new law
ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia school leaders are turning down a new option of arming teachers, arguing that it doesn’t make kids any safer. Officials in least two school districts have decided against arming staff. Education officials say no district is pursuing it so far. Attacks in California, Oregon and Washington haven’t swayed officials who say guns don’t belong in schools. The option is part of a law, effective July 1 that expands where Georgians can legally carry guns. Supporters say schools should consider the option to prevent violence. Georgia is among 14 states to propose a law in 2014 allowing teachers to carry guns. Nine more states passed similar laws after a mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Georgia education leaders say the law pulled them into a Second Amendment discussion they never wanted.
Laws on guns, Medicaid expansion set for July 1
ATLANTA (AP) - A host of bills went into effect on July 1. During the most recent legislative session, lawmakers proposed 615 pieces of legislation. Of those, 305 bills passed with Gov. Nathan Deal signing the vast majority of them into law. Some became law upon the governor’s signature, while a large number take effect on July 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year. Of those set to take effect on July 1 is the Georgia Safe Carry Protection Act, which has been criticized as the "guns everywhere’’ bill. It expands where licensed carriers can take their weapons and includes varying rules affecting bars, churches, schools and government buildings. Other bills establish a new Zell Miller Grant for technical college students and limit the governor’s ability to expand Medicaid.
Whistleblower alleges VA benefit application purge
ATLANTA (AP) - Federal investigators are probing a whistleblower’s allegations that applications for veterans seeking health care benefits may have been improperly purged from the VA’s Health Eligibility Center in suburban Atlanta. Eligibility Center program specialist Scott Davis told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (http://bit.ly/1ofvEoR) that health benefit applications for more than 10,000 veterans may have been improperly purged from the Health Eligibility Center’s national data system in DeKalb County. The center doesn’t process all applications, but helps manage the national enrollment computer system and offers enrollment guidance for VA hospitals across the country.