Gov. Deal signs 'medical amnesty' bill
ATLANTA (AP) - Gov. Nathan Deal has signed into law a bill that would grant amnesty in some cases to those who seek medical help in the event of a drug overdose.
Deal signed the bill Thursday, and it takes immediate effect. Lawmakers had overwhelmingly passed the "Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law."
Supporters of the law argue some people are too afraid to call for medical help for themselves or others because they fear prosecution on drug charges. The law would grant amnesty only on drug possession charges when amounts are small.
Supporters say the bill won't help drug dealers, but could save lives.
Some 17 states have passed similar so-called "Good Samaritan laws."
GEORGIA ABORTION BILL
Deal signs bill restricting some abortion coverage
ATLANTA (AP) - Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a bill into law restricting abortion coverage in plans for state employees and those sold on the insurance exchange as part of the federal health care law.
Deal signed the bill Thursday, and it takes effect immediately. The bill passed largely on party lines, with Democrats opposing it for infringing on a woman's right to choose and not providing an exception for rape.
The bill says abortion coverage cannot be provided except in the case of a medical emergency, in both the state employee health plan and plans offered through Georgia's federally run exchange.
The federal health care law allows states to draft legislation prohibiting abortion coverage in qualified health plans offered through an exchange. Supporters say at least 24 states have done so.
Macon child care center ordered to close
MACON, Ga. (AP) - A Macon child care center has been ordered to close immediately after complaints that a five-year-old child was left alone in a van for about four hours.
The Georgia Department of Early Care reported in a statement that an administrative judge upheld the closure order on Thursday. It was first issued by the department last week.
Department spokesman Reg Griffin says the Charlotte's Webb Learning Center must remain closed for 21 days while the department reviews its license.
A woman who answered the phone at the business on Thursday said the owner was not available.
According to the judge's order, the center's employees care for about 40 children.
Parents affected by the closure can get help finding child care at allgakids.org or by calling 1-877-ALL GA KIDS.
IDENTITY THEFT-TAX FRAUD
15 people charged in tax fraud ring
STATESBORO, Ga. (AP) - An additional 15 people have been charged in connection with identity theft and tax fraud rings operating in and around Statesboro, Ga.
Prosecutors say 29-year-old Santana Lundy of Statesboro, Ga. and 32-year-old Katrina Beasley of Clayton, Ga. have not yet been arrested. The other 13 people were arrested this week.
Prosecutors say a total of 56 defendants were involved with using stolen identities to submit tax returns and get refunds.
Federal and state agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service, the Atlanta Federal Bureau of Investigation field office and the Georgia Department of Revenue, are working on the ongoing investigation.
Ga. governor approves referendum on dorm taxes
ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia voters will decide this fall whether to give private developers a tax break for taking over the management of student housing.
Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday signed the referendum bill, which is a key element of the state university system's plan to partner with private developers for student housing.
Officials with the state's university system plan to package housing on nine campuses and begin taking bids from private developers. The chosen company would handle daily operations and have the option to do renovations or construction.
The initial phase could include up to 9,700 beds, but system officials say they hope the model works for all 31 campuses eventually.
That would make Georgia the largest test of public-private dorm partnerships.
FORMER LAWMAKER'S HOME-FIRE
Fire destroys home of former state lawmaker
WATKINSVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A fire has destroyed the northeast Georgia home of former state Rep. Bob Smith.
A spokesman for the state fire marshal said someone called police to report smoke in the area shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday in Watkinsville. Police and fire officials were called and discovered the house on fire. No one was in the home at the time.
Authorities say it appears the fire started in the garage area, but the cause hasn't been determined.
The Athens Banner-Herald reports that Smith served 12 years in the Georgia House of Representatives in a district that included Oconee County and parts of Clarke, Oglethorpe and Morgan counties. He announced in 2010 that he would not seek re-election so he could focus on the real estate business he and his son operate.
Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic to stay in Columbus
COLUMBUS, Ga. (AP) - An agreement has been reached to keep the Tuskegee-Morehouse Classic, a football rivalry game held for nearly eight decades, in the west Georgia city of Columbus.
Last year, organizers said the annual game's future in Columbus was uncertain. Other cities such as Phenix City and Montgomery had expressed interest in hosting the game.
The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported that the agreement reached after months of negotiations will keep the game at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus for the 79th consecutive season.
The upcoming Oct. 11 game will mark the 79th consecutive season for the match between Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala. and Morehouse College in Atlanta.
The Columbus newspaper reports that it is the longest-running rivalry among historically black colleges and universities.
Parents of infant found dead held on drug charges
SYLVESTER, Ga. (AP) - Officials say the parents of an infant who was found dead at their Mississippi home drove with their 2-year-old daughter to Georgia, where they are being held on felony drug warrants.
Police in Sylvester, about 170 miles south of Atlanta, say 2-year-old Maliah Harris was found unharmed at 12:09 a.m. Thursday in a traffic stop after an Amber Alert was issued. Police Chief Robert Jennings says 34-year-old Donald Boyd Harris and 31-year-old Allison Studdard are wanted on warrants for possession of methamphetamine in Mississippi. Jennings says drugs also were found in the car, with additional charges possible.
Maliah's 7-month-old sister, Alyssa, was found dead early Wednesday. County Coroner Greg Merchant says an autopsy didn't reveal a preliminary cause of death. A toxicology report is pending.
Sheriff Mike Arledge tells WCBI-TV methamphetamine was found at the scene.
ATLANTA TRANSIT OFFICERS
MARTA looks to military bases for police officers
ATLANTA (AP) - Metro Atlanta's public transit system is looking to Detroit and military bases in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia as it attempts to recruit new police officers to its force.
Officials with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority -- known as MARTA in the Atlanta area -- went on recruiting trips last month to Fort Lee in Virginia and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
Trips to Detroit in May and to west Georgia's Fort Benning Army base in June are also planned.
The transit system is also offering a $3,000 signing bonus for new officers.
WSB-TV reports (http://bit.ly/1hqgN4v) that the system has a dozen vacancies on its police force, and the proposed new budget adds an additional 29 officers.
MARTA's police force includes more than 300 sworn positions.
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