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Kemp names 3 panels to mull $4.8B in spending

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ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp is appointing three committees to advise him on how to spend $4.8 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid allotted to Georgia.

The Republican on Tuesday named panels to recommend spending on internet access, water and sewer infrastructure and ways to offset the economic harms of COVID-19.

The governor promised lawmakers in the closing days of the regular session that they would have input in how the money is spent.

Each of the panels has between seven and nine lawmakers. However, Kemp will get the final say on spending. The panels will take applications from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31.

Kemp says he wants to announce decisions in mid-October.

Also in the news …Republican state Sen. Tyler Harper says he is running for Georgia agriculture commissioner. The Ocilla resident announced Tuesday that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for an open position. Gary Black has held the post since 2011 but is stepping down to run for the U.S. Senate. Harper is in his fifth term representing Senate District 7, which covers all or parts of 10 south Georgia counties. Harper is currently the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Environment Committee and has sponsored legislation to broaden gun rights while in the Senate. Democrat Nakita Hemingway announced earlier this month she is also running for the position after losing a 2020 race for state HouseGeorgia state lawmakers have set locations for five upcoming hearings to collect public input on how they should redraw election districts for the state’s 14 members of Congress, state senators and state representatives and public service commissioners. The General Assembly must redraw the districts every 10 years to balance population changes. A special session is expected this fall in advance of qualifying for the 2022 elections. Lawmakers meet at three sites this week and will come to Martinez on Monday from 5-7 p.m. at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion, 3300 Evans-to-Lock Road.A federal grant has been awarded to sample, grow and save 14 rare plant species in Georgia. The state Department of Natural Resources said in a news release that the $780,000 grant will support work by a partnership led by the agency. It will also increase the capacity to preserve plants at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, Atlanta Botanical Garden and the Chattahoochee Nature Center and to spread expertise and support to others in the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance.David E. Nahmias will be sworn in as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia on Thursday at the state Capitol. Michael P. Boggs will be sworn in as the new presiding justice. Outgoing Chief Justice Harold D. Melton will swear in both justices, who were unanimously elected by their colleagues on March 11. The investiture will take place at 3 p.m. in the House chamber.A new law is going into effect across the Peach State to protect bicyclists. Starting Thursday, drivers must give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space when they pass them. The law also says drivers must move to an available lane to pass if there is one. And it also lays out that drivers are allowed to cross double yellow or double white lines to provide 3 feet of space.

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