(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson, File)

Around Georgia: Fracking bill generates interest in northwest Georgia

Legislation on governor’s desk would affect eight-county region

Some landowners in Floyd County and seven other northwest Georgia counties have an interest in a bill awaiting Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature on fracking. Hydraulic fracking is a method of drilling for natural gas and oil by forcing high-pressure water, combined with sand and chemicals, into underground rock. Fracking didn’t exist when regulations were last updated in the 1970s, said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who squired the legislation, House Bill 205, through the Senate. The Rome News-Tribune reports that landowners in the region have been approached over the past decade to sell mineral rights to their property. Under the updated regulations, a company planning to use fracking to explore for gas or oil would have to give public notice of its intent, the paper states.

Editorial suggests Delta didn’t deserve ‘political intimidation’

The Barrow News-Journal’s editor commented over the weekend on the recent uproar over Delta Air Lines’ decision to end travel discounts for members of the National Rifle Association and the General Assembly’s retaliatory move to rescind a proposed tax break on jet fuel. “While the wisdom of such a large tax break, particularly for a very profitable company like Delta, is certainly debatable, (Lt. Gov. Casey) Cagle’s message and that of the other Republicans supporting the decision to not implement the break was clear. The state’s largest private employer needed to be punished for a decision it felt was in the company’s best interests,” editor Scott Thompson wrote. He says Delta doesn’t necessarily need a massive tax cut to prosper. “But it also doesn’t deserve political intimidation from those who claim to be champions of business,” Thompson concludes.

Small march held in Macon for LGBTQ community, against bill

Macon.com reports that about 50 people marched through Macon on Saturday in support of the LGBTQ community and in opposition to what they view as discriminatory state policies. They specifically objected to Senate Bill 375, which would allow state-funded child welfare organizations to refuse to place children with same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

Savannah hospital may have to reimburse Medicare $1.3 million

The Savannah Morning News and savannahnow.com are reporting that the community’s safety-net hospital — Memorial University Medical Center — overbilled the federal government for almost one-third of its Medicare patients in 2015-2016. The findings in a federal audit, unless successfully challenged by Memorial, could force the hospital to repay more than $1.3 million due to noncompliance with Medicare billing requirements. The audit, the paper reported, was done well before Jan. 31, when the Hospital Corporation of America purchased Memorial Health’s assets, including the 612-bed hospital. The Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted a random audit of claims and found Memorial complied with Medicare rules on 92 of 131 inpatient and outpatient claims, leaving 39 claims with issues.

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