PG A.M.: Odds improve for sports betting as top Senate Democrat backs bid

Your daily jolt of news and analysis from the AJC politics team
Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain, the chamber’s top Democrat, is backing a move toward legalized sports betting in the state. (Jason Getz/Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason.Getz/AJC

Credit: Jason.Getz/AJC

Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain, the chamber’s top Democrat, is backing a move toward legalized sports betting in the state. (Jason Getz/Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Legalized sports wagering in Georgia is no longer a longshot bet after a bipartisan coalition of state Senate leaders introduced a bill backed by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and Atlanta’s pro teams to allow wagering on sports.

The measure introduced late Wednesday by Republican state Sen. Clint Dixon of Gwinnett is co-sponsored by a group of key lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler of Stone Mountain, the chamber’s top Democrat, and Sen. Bo Hatchett of Cornelia, one of Gov. Brian Kemp’s floor leaders. Lt. Gov. Burt Jones is also said to back the idea.

The bill calls for sports betting to be overseen by the Georgia Lottery Corporation, with the proceeds going to boost the HOPE college scholarship, pre-kindergarten programs and needs-based student aid.

Supporters have estimated that sports betting would bring anywhere from $30 million to $100 million in taxes or fees to the state each year. And the way the bill is drafted, it would only need to pass by majority vote to land on Kemp’s desk.

State Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, introduced a bill to allow legalized sports betting in the state. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

That legal approach is the subject of a long-running internal rift. Some say gambling can only be expanded in Georgia through a constitutional amendment, which would require a two-thirds vote in the Legislature and majority approval by voters in a statewide referendum.

Senate boosters tried to pass an expansion using that method last year but fell eight votes shy of reaching the two-thirds threshold. Proponents of this new effort sound confident they’ll have the support to cross the finish line this time, at least in the Senate.

Among the supporters of Senate Bill 386 is Atlanta Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller, who noted that 38 other states have now legalized sports betting and that sports teams employ thousands of Georgians.

“Like an overwhelming majority of voters from across the state who support legalizing mobile sports betting,” he said, “we are glad to see that revenue generated will go toward funding important programs like pre-K and the HOPE scholarship.”

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UNDER THE GOLD DOME:

  • 8 a.m.: Committee meetings begin.
  • 10 a.m.: The House gavels in.
  • 10 a.m.: The Senate convenes.

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U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-St. Simons Island, supports a bill requiring additional transparency from pharmacy benefit managers. (Nathan Posner for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

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Credit: Nathan Posner for The AJC

CARTER AT CAPITOL. U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter brought new meaning to the term “wheeling and dealing” as the congressman, recovering from recent foot surgery, used a cart to scoot to meetings at the Georgia Capitol on Wednesday.

Tops on Carter’s agenda was testifying before the House Health and Human Services Committee on House Bill 343, a bipartisan measure meant to lower prescription drug costs.

Carter did not play a role in drafting the legislation but told the committee he supports the bill to require additional transparency from pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs. A retired pharmacist, Carter told us his testimony focused on his experience with PBMs and insurance companies “and the egregious practices that they engage in.”

The Georgia bill has picked up some opposition from the powerful National Federation of Independent Businesses. As a former member of the NFIB, Carter said, “I’m extremely disappointed. … I can assure you that when I get to Washington, I’ll be meeting with them at a federal level.”

The St. Simons Island Republican is pushing his own bipartisan bill in Washington to cut drug costs and has an unlikely ally — U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats — working the issue in the Senate. Sanders’ seniority and Democrats’ majority status in the Senate means the bill has better-than-even chances of passage, unlike most measures in Washington.

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State Reps. John Carson, R-Marietta,  and Esther Panitch, D-Sandy Springs, sponsored an antisemitism bill. (Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

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Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

ANTISEMITISM VOTE. State Senate lawmakers are set to vote today on a measure that would make antisemitism a hate crime in Georgia after GOP leaders in the chamber broke a logjam over the bill.

With backing from Senate Pro Tem John Kennedy, R-Macon, and Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, the measure appears to be on a glidepath toward passage.

One of the nation’s top evangelical groups is also adding its voice. Senators arriving at the Capitol today will find letters on their desks from the Faith & Freedom Coalition urging them to back what it calls a “fitting, constitutionally valid and necessary step” to combat acts of hatred against Jewish people.

The antisemitism bill’s passage will be welcomed by the Georgia House, which adopted its own version of the measure with bipartisan support last year. Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign it into law once it reaches his desk.

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State Rep. Pedro "Pete" Marin D-Duluth, is retiring after serving for 22 years in the Legislature. (Natrice Miller/Natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

LEGISLATOR RETIRING. The 2024 legislative session will be the last for Georgia’s longest-serving Latino lawmaker, Rep. Pedro “Pete” Marin.

The Duluth Democrat will announce his retirement today after 22 years in the House. A native of Puerto Rico, Marin is the longest-serving Hispanic legislator in Georgia history.

As our Greg Bluestein writes, Marin’s reputation is as a force for consensus in the House and as a voice for Georgia’s growing Latino community, along with other diverse, underrepresented constituencies.

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LISTEN UP. AP politics reporter Meg Kinnard and political analyst Rick Dent joined the “Politically Georgia” radio show Wednesday to break down the New Hampshire primary results and the reverberations from former President Donald Trump’s convincing win. And the AJC’s Maya T. Prabhu called in with the latest from the General Assembly.

Tune in for today’s show, when we’ll be joined by Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs and Charlene McGowan, general counsel for the Secretary of State’s office, to talk about election security and efforts by lawmakers to increase state oversight of the Secretary of State.

You can hear all of our episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. And listen to Thursday’s show live at 10 a.m. on WABE 90.1 FM, at AJC.com and at WABE.org.

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MANCHIN TOWN HALL. The AJC is having a virtual town hall event and you’re invited.Tune in live at AJC.com Friday afternoon when West Virginia U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin will join Politically Georgia’s Greg Bluestein for the livestreaming event.

The veteran senator and two-term West Virginia governor is traveling the country as he considers a third-party run for president in 2024. As a part of a swing through Southeastern states, he’ll sit down with Bluestein to talk about it all. The event starts at 3 p.m. and will be available later as a podcast.

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A border patrol agent cuts razor wire near the Camino Real International Bridge connecting the U.S. and Mexico border cities.(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

BORDER BATTLE. Amid the standoff between Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the federal government over who has jurisdiction at the U.S.-Mexico border, one Georgia lawmaker wants to change the law to give the state the final say.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled narrowly this week that U.S. Border Patrol agents have the right to remove razor wire that Abbott, a Republican, ordered erected along a stretch of the Rio Grande as a deterrent to keep migrants from attempting to cross from Mexico into the U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has argued that the razor wire was preventing the federal government from carrying out its immigration enforcement duties.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia introduced legislation that would ban the federal government from removing any border barriers erected by states attempting to limit illegal immigration.

Georgia U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson, introduced legislation that would ban the federal government from removing any border barriers erected by states attempting to limit illegal immigration. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

In a statement, the Jackson Republican accused the Biden administration of standing in the way of Texas and other states that want to stop the surge of migrants at the border.

“With the Supreme Court siding with the America Last policies of the Biden administration, Congress must stand with Gov. Greg Abbott as he fights for the sovereignty of his state and our nation,” Collins said.

Although Collins’ measure falls in line with Republicans’ focus on immigration, it is unclear if the bill will see any action with the GOP holding a thin majority in the House and unable to make progress on other legislation deemed a priority in recent months.

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TODAY IN WASHINGTON:

  • President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his Investing in America initiative and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law from a brewery in Superior, Wisconsin.
  • The U.S. Senate considers judicial nominations.
  • The House is adjourned for the week.

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U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta (speaking) has been endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employee. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

MCBATH ENDORSEMENT. The endorsements continue to roll in for U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, who is running for a fourth term in Congress in the newly drawn 6th Congressional District.

The latest group to back the Marietta Democrat is the American Federation of Government Employees, which calls itself the largest union for federal workers.

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U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, is hosting a U.S. Service Academy Day at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville on Feb. 10. (Tia Mitchell/Tia.Mitchell@ajc.com)

Credit: Tia Mitchell/AJC

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Credit: Tia Mitchell/AJC

ACADEMY DAYS. A role that members of Congress take seriously but that often flies under the radar is the hand they have in nominating students who wish to attend four of the nation’s five military academies.

To help applicants learn about opportunities to attend these military institutions, lawmakers hold recruitment and informational events across the state.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, is hosting a U.S. Service Academy Day at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville on Feb. 10. In addition to the five U.S. military academies, there will also be representatives from Georgia Military College, which has a separate admissions process. The event is open to all high school students and their parents.

On April 27, U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Atlanta, is taking the lead on the congressional delegation’s Georgia Service Academy Day. The event will be held at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta. Representatives from all five service academies plus ROTC programs at Georgia colleges and universities will be on hand.

Students and their families can find more information and sign-up for the event at ossoff.senate.gov/academyday. The deadline to RSVP is April 12.

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Donovan Head and his wife, Jansen, adopted Brody and Bailey at first lady Marty Kemp’s first pet adoption day in 2019. Now the brother sister due are all grown up and turning five this month. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

DOG OF THE DAY. Dog of the Day readers know all about Georgia first lady Marty Kemp’s annual pet adoption days. But have you ever wondered how the adoptions turn out?

For one of many happy endings, meet Brody and Bailey Head, a brother-sister combo adopted by Donovan and Jansen Head at Kemp’s first adoption day at the Governor’s Mansion in 2019.

Donovan Head and his wife, Jansen, adopted Brody and Bailey at first lady Marty Kemp’s first pet adoption day in 2019. Now the brother sister due are all grown up and turning five this month. (Courtesy photo)

Credit: Courtesy photo

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Credit: Courtesy photo

Brody and Bailey are all grown up now, living in Woodstock, and celebrating their fifth birthday later this month. A reliable source tells us they’re hoping to get tennis balls and playdates as presents. But for the gift that keeps on giving, how about being our Dogs of the Day?

Send us your dogs of any political persuasion and location, and cats on a cat-by-cat basis, to patricia.murphy@ajc.com, or DM us at @MurphyAJC.

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AS ALWAYS, Politically Georgia readers are some of our favorite tipsters. Send your best scoop, gossip and insider info to greg.bluestein@ajc.com, tia.mitchell@ajc.com, patricia.murphy@ajc.com, and adam.vanbrimmer@ajc.com.