Georgia House approves $159 million in midyear budget cuts
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia House has voted to cut state government's budget, but also move some money around to protect lawmakers' priorities. The House voted 126-46 on Wednesday to pass House Bill 792. It cuts $159 million from spending plans for the current budget year, running through June 30. The measure now moves to the Senate for more debate. Lawmakers were forced to cut the budget, with state revenues running behind projections. The revenue shortfall happened, in part, because of a tax cut approved by lawmakers that decreased revenue by more than $500 million. Gov. Brian Kemp earlier ordered agencies to reduce spending by about $200 million.
SCHOOL DROPOUT AGE-GEORGIA
Bill: Raise Georgia's minimum dropout age from 16 to 17
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia lawmakers are considering raising the state's minimum dropout age from 16 to 17. A Wednesday hearing on Senate Bill 343 revealed concerns about how much additional students would cost the state. Some lawmakers also question if it's worthwhile to force unmotivated teens to remain. The Senate Education and Youth Committee didn't vote on the bill. Some Democrats have been seeking for years to raise the age for students choosing to leave school. Georgia is one of 15 states with a minimum dropout age of 16. Figures show about 4,600 Georgia students left last year without completing a high school diploma.
DEADLY SHOOTING-DRUG ROBBERY
Mom of man slain in home robbery arrested on drug charges
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) — A woman whose son was fatally shot during a home invasion has been arrested after officers found more than $1 million worth of drugs in the home. Autumn Lynn Tillery was arrested Monday on multiple felony drug charges. Tillery's son, 21-year-old Cross Henderson was fatally shot last month after several armed suspects stormed his mother's Columbus home demanding drugs. Investigators found methamphetamine, LSD, painkillers and multiple marijuana-based drugs at Tillery's home. The drugs' estimated street value is over $1 million. Six people were arrested in connection with the shooting. Tillery is being held without bond.
Former Georgia sheriff to lead State Patrol after exam flap
ATLANTA (AP) — A former Georgia sheriff has been chosen to lead the state Department of Public Safety on an interim basis after the agency's prior chief resigned in the aftermath of a cheating scandal involving state troopers. Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that the agency's board approved former Tift County Sheriff Gary Vowell to serve as interim public safety commissioner. He will take over for Col. Mark McDonough, who resigned last week at Kemp's request. The turnover at the top of the agency that oversees the Georgia State Patrol comes after an entire graduation class of the patrol's Trooper School was fired or resigned in January over accusations of cheating on an online exam.
MISSING STUDENT-BODY FOUND
Police arrest boyfriend of student found dead in Georgia
FORT VALLEY, Ga. (AP) — Police have arrested the boyfriend of a university student found dead this week in Georgia. News outlets report 23-year-old DeMarcus Little is being held on charges of criminal damage to property. Fort Valley police accuse him of smashing the windows of Anitra Gunn's apartment and slashing her vehicle's tires on Feb. 5. Gunn was reported missing 10 days later. Her body was found partially hidden under leaves and branches on Tuesday. Police say Little could face more charges. The Peach County Sheriff called him a person of interest in Gunn's death. It's unclear whether he has an attorney who could speak for him.
DRAGON CON CO-FOUNDER
Mistrial in case of judge accused of computer trespass
LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A jury was unable to reach a verdict in the case of a Georgia judge accused of illegally accessing a courthouse computer network. Presiding Judge David Sweat on Tuesday declared a mistrial in Gwinnett County Judge Kathryn Schrader's case. News outlets reported that he acknowledged that the jury didn't appear able to reach a unanimous verdict on three charges of computer trespass after a day and a half of deliberations. An indictment in September accused Schrader and three others, including Dragon Con co-founder Ed Kramer, of illegally accessing the Gwinnett County Justice Center computer network in February 2019. The three others reached plea deals.
Flooded Mississippi residents return to soggy, smelly homes
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Flooded-out residents are returning to soggy, smelly homes around Mississippi's capital after days of misery. Gov. Tate Reeves is urging people to be cautious as they go into buildings that were flooded by the Pearl River. People who had been forced out of their homes were opening doors and windows on Wednesday so carpet, furniture and floors could begin drying out. Hundreds of people remained without electricity in central Mississippi. Rain was still falling across a wide area from eastern Texas to South Carolina. Flood warnings covered much of the South, and more rain was expected in Mississippi.
Georgia House plan shifts money to lawmakers' priorities