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Morning headlines: Judge refuses to halt state abortion law

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Nicole Jordan / WUGA
The Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v Wade in June sparked protests around the country, including in downtown Athens.

A state judge has refused to immediately stop enforcement of Georgia’s restrictive abortion law.

The law took effect last month, weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It bans most abortions once fetal cardiac activity is present.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney ruled Monday that he did not have the authority to issue a preliminary injunction and block the law at this stage of the lawsuit. He stressed that his decision did not touch on the merits of the case, which will continue.

McBurney is considering a challenge to the law based in part on the state constitution.

State issues $1.2 billion in federal COVID aid

The state will spend $1.2 billion in federal COVID-19 aid on payments of $350 each to more than 3 million Georgians who benefit from Medicaid, subsidized child health insurance, food stamps or cash welfare assistance.

The move comes on top of Governor Kemp’s proposals to spend $2 billion in state surplus on property tax rebates and a second round of income tax rebates.

A spokesperson for Stacey Abrams accused Kemp of hypocrisy for taking credit for federally financed benefits while bad-mouthing the Biden administration and called the payments "political gimmicks, that are too little too late."

The state Department of Human Services says beneficiaries will get the payment automatically, but urged people to update their contact information on a state website that manages health and welfare benefits.

Kemp nominates new GBI director

Governor Brian Kemp has named the former police chief of two suburban Atlanta counties as the next director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, pending approval by a state board.

Mike Register would replace Vic Reynolds, who was named as a superior court judge in Cobb County.

Register was police chief in Clayton County and then in Cobb County, focusing in Cobb on improving relations between county police and a rapidly diversifying community.

Register, if approved by the state public safety board, would take the reins at the 950-employee GBI at a time when Reynolds has focused on investigating gangs and lawmakers have tasked the agency with investigating election crimes.

Alexia Ridley joined WUGA as Television and Radio News Anchor and Reporter in 2013. When WUGA TV concluded operations, she became the primary Reporter for WUGA Radio. Alexia came to Athens from Macon where she served as the News Director and show host for WGXA TV. She's a career journalist and Savannah native hailing from the University of Michigan. However, Alexia considers herself an honorary UGA DAWG!