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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says the state will end federal unemployment payments of $300 a week beginning in June.

Kemp said the $300 weekly federal subsidies discourage the jobless from finding gainful employment. He added that the payments are "hurting our productivity not only in Georgia, but around the country."

Congress approved the extra payments in a $2 trillion stimulus package in early 2020. The federal subsidies will end in mid-to-late Jun. Federal law allows states to opt out of the program as early as June 12.

Kemp made his decision after hearing from small business owners seeking an end to the payments.

The organizations said the extra $300 weekly -- added to state benefits of up to $365 a week -- discouraged people from seeking employment.

People who should be working jobs to help stimulate the local economy are instead jetting off to exotic destinations and brawling in airports.

"This is an issue I'm getting pounded on every day by our small business owners and many Georgians," Kemp said, adding: "They need some help."

Meanwhile, employers such as McDonald's are forced to pay $50 for applicants to sit for an interview.

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Lil Yachty says the Georgia boycotts are a big waste of time because they won't change new voting laws.

New voter ID laws were put in place last month by Gov. Brian Kemp to even the playing field for Republicans.

Lil Yachty said he doesn't think boycotts in Georgia will help change "oppressive" voting laws in his home state, but he's got advice for people worried about getting to the polls.

TMZ caught up with the Atlanta rapper as he was leaving dinner at Delilah in West Hollywood, CA. TMZ asked Yachty about the impact of Major League Baseball, Hollywood film productions and other big businesses pulling out of Georgia in protest over the laws.

Corporations objected to the new voter ID law that requires identification to submit absentee ballots to vote in Georgia.

Democrats argue that IDs are "oppressive" against Black people who don't know how to apply for IDs.

Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star game out of Georgia in protest of the voter ID law. But critics pointed out that the league requires IDs to pick up season tickets.

ID is also required to get vaccinated in Georgia and other states.

Lil Yachty says the boycotts won't last forever because the Peach State is just too stubborn.

Yachty tells TMZ why he's not worried about a business exodus hurting Atlanta's economy, and he offers advice for voters.

Watch Yachty's interview below.
 

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Will Smith and director Antoine Fuqua have pulled their runaway slave movie out of Georgia due to controversial voter ID law.

Smith's new slavery film titled, Emancipation, was scheduled to begin filming on in Atlanta in June, but he is now looking for a new location.

Smith, who is starring in, as well as producing the movie, blamed "institutional racism," for his decision.

"The new Georgia voting laws are reminiscent of voting impediments that were passed at the end of Reconstruction to prevent many Americans from voting. Regrettably, we feel compelled to move our film production work from Georgia to another state."

The movie, based on a true story, will likely be filmed in Louisiana, where the actual events took place.

In the film, Smith plays a slave who escaped the plantation and joined the Union Army after he was whipped to within an inch of his life.

The historic photo of the ex-slave's scarred back, taken during an Army medical examination, became known as "The Scourged Back."

The photo was published by The Independent and Harper's Weekly in 1863, and served to embody the cruelty of slavery in America.

"It was the first viral image of the brutality of slavery that the world saw, which is interesting, when you put it into perspective with today and social media and what the world is seeing, again," Fuqua told Deadline last year. "You can't fix the past, but you can remind people of the past and I think we have to, in an accurate, real way."

Emancipation is the first film to pull out of Georgia since the new laws went into effect.

Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game out of Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the new election bill into law in March.

The new election law requires identification to submit absentee ballots by mail.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has lifted all coronavirus restrictions beginning today, April 8.

Georgia restaurants can move tables closer together and moviegoers are no longer required to socially distance in theaters.

Atlanta's nightclubs were already packed since last summer, but more people can gather together in churches and concert venues.

"As cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline, and more Georgians are being vaccinated, the Governor is continuing to protect lives and livelihoods by repealing remaining restrictions to help Georgians get back to normal," Kemp said in a statement.

Kemp was criticized by Democrats after he signed a new voter bill into law that requires voter ID to submit absentee ballots.

Kemp resisted tightening Georgia's election laws when former President Donald Trump ran for reelection in 2020.

But Democrats say Kemp is suppressing the Black vote to secure his own reelection next November.

After speaking with Stacey Abrams, Major League Baseball (MLB) moved the All-Star game from Atlanta to Colorado, where voter ID is required and election laws are even tighter.

But the league justified the move because the Black population in Atlanta is over 51% but Blacks make up only 9.2% of the population in Denver.

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Rep. Park Cannon, the Georgia lawmaker who was dragged out of the Capitol building for knocking on Gov. Brian Kemp's door, will not be charged.

Cannon was arrested on March 25 and dragged to the Fulton County (Atlanta) Jail after she knocked on Kemp's door while he signed the voter ID bill into law.

The election bill requires voter ID to request and submit absentee ballots, limits the number of ballot drop boxes, and allows the Georgia State Elections Board to take over county elections boards if there are problems with ballot counting.

Cannon's arrest sparked outrage on social media when video of her arrest went viral.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she will not pursue charges and the case is closed.

Willis said the police officers may have found her behavior annoying," but it did not justify putting together a grand jury.

Cannon faced charges of felony obstruction and disrupting the General Assembly session. If found guilty, she faced up to high years in jail.

"My experience was painful, both physically and emotionally, but today I stand before you to say as horrible as that experience was... I believe the governor signing into law the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country is a far more serious crime," Cannon said at a rally last week.

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Gov. Brian Kemp signed an election bill requiring voters to submit identification to vote by mail. If Georgians choose to use their driver's license, they must provide the correct driver's license number -- or their ballots will be rejected.

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Democrats have launched a campaign to educate residents on the correct DL number to provide when submitting their absentee ballots.

Democrats are outraged over Kemp's new election law, which closes a loophole that allowed out-of-towners to submit ballots without providing an ID.

Lawmakers argue the new law is voter suppression. They say the law puts Black people at a disadvantage because they don't know how to apply for IDs.

Critics say the Democrat's argument against voter ID boils down to insulting the intelligence of black people.

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Twitter

Furious Democrats reacted to the arrest of a Georgia lawmaker who interrupted Gov. Brian Kemp's livestream announcement after he signed a sweeping election bill into law on Thursday.

The election bill requires voter ID to request and submit absentee ballots, limits the number of ballot drop boxes, and allows the Georgia State Elections Board to take over county elections boards if there are problems with ballot counting.

Democrats accused Kemp of voter suppression, while Republicans wonder why he didn't strengthen voter laws during the presidential elections in 2020 and the Senate runoffs in January.

Democrat representatives and activists gathered to protest the signing of the bill at the state capitol on Thursday.

Georgia State Representative Park Cannon (D-Atlanta) was arrested for banging on Gov. Kemp's door during his livestream announcement.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

"Cannon was with several other protesters when she knocked on Kemp’s office door, saying the public should be allowed to witness the announcement of the bill signing. The sweeping legislation requires ID for absentee ballots, limits drop boxes and changes early voting hours."

Cell phone video shows Georgia State Troopers forcibly dragging a handcuffed Cannon through the Capitol building and shoving her into a patrol car, as she yelled, "There's no reason for me to leave... I am a legislator!"

The reaction was furious on Twitter. One Twitter user wrote: "She was arrested more harshly than a white man who murdered 8 Asian women."

While another liberal tweeted: "This is outrageous. The @GOP is suppresing democracy [sic]."

And a third Twitter user wrote: "She was arrested for standing by a door! ????"

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Texas is following the standards set by wide open Florida and Georgia by reopening businesses and lifting mask mandates.

On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he is canceling the mask mandate and reopening all businesses in the state.

Abbott said all businesses will fully reopen starting March 10.

This is welcome news for business owners who suffered catastrophic losses during the coronavirus outbreak last year.

"Removing statewide mandates does not end personal responsibility," Abbott said. "It's just that now state mandates are no longer needed."

Texas is the largest state to lift mask mandates. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp canceled mask mandates early last year -- despite pushback from Democratic lawmakers in the state.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also canceled mask mandates and opened his state for business last year.

Florida and Georgia have lower death and infection rates when compared to lockdown states such as California and New York.

The CDC warned states should reopen slowly due to virus "variants" and "mutations" in the wild.

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Georgia Governor Brian Kemp banned face mask ordinances in the state, saying face masks can't be enforced in any city or county in the state.

Kemp, a Republican, signed a new executive order on Wednesday night extending his previous EO after the state experienced a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

The new order keeps in place restrictions on public gatherings of 50 or more people.

The new order extends social distancing and shelter in place guidelines for nursing home patients and medically fragile.

But Kemp prohibited face mask mandates, saying face mask laws are "too restrictive" and violate the individual rights of healthy people who choose not to wear one.

While lawmakers such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta have mandated face masks in their cities and counties, Gov. Kemp said the mask ordinances can not be enforced, meaning citizens who don't wear face masks will not be cited or fined.

Mayor Bottoms announced she contracted the virus - despite wearing face masks for months.

Studies have shown face masks increase the risk of contracting the coronavirus because people repeatedly touch their faces.

Failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams slammed Kemp as "incompetent", while the mayor of Savannah lashed out at Kemp, saying "He does not give a damn about us."

"Every man and woman for himself/herself," said Savannah Mayor Van Jonson, a Democrat. "Ignore the science and survive the best you can. In #Savannah, we will continue to keep the faith and follow the science. Masks will continue to be available!”

There were nearly 4,000 "confirmed cases" of coronavirus in Georgia and almost 2,800 people are hospitalized due to COVID-19.

But some residents on Twitter complained that their loved ones are being tested "multiple times" - with each positive test counted as a new case.
 

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Governor Brian Kemp ordered 1,000 members of the National Guard to deploy to Atlanta, citing the mayor's failure "to quell ongoing violence with armed individuals threatening citizens".

Atlanta has seen over 75 shootings in the past few weeks.

Kemp, who is Republican, declared a state of emergency in Atlanta on Monday after 8-year-old Secoreia Turner was fatally shot while riding in a car with her mother and a friend near the Wendy's where Rayshard Brooks was killed last month.

Mayor Bottoms was accused of ignoring the armed Black Lives Matter protesters guarding the burned out Wendy's where Brooks died.
 

In an emotional press conference on Monday, Mayor Bottoms blamed Black Lives Matter activists for the little girl's death.

"You cant blame this on a police officer. You can't say this about criminal justice reform," Bottoms said. "This is about some people carrying some weapons who shot up a car with an 8-year-old baby in the car for what?!?

"Enough is enough," Bottoms continued. "If you want people to take us seriously and you don't want us to lose this movement, we can't lose each other."

On ABC's Good Morning America, Mayor Bottoms was asked if she requested the National Guard to control the protests which turned violent.

"No. An irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no," she said. "But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard.

"So, I understand if he wants to protect state buildings. We have been coordinating with the Georgia State Patrol -- which we do on any number of occasions... But at no time was it mentioned that anyone felt that there was the need for the National Guard to come in.”

On Monday afternoon Bottoms tweeted that she and her husband had tested positive for COVID-19. She said she had no symptoms.

Gov. Kemp does not plan to mandate mask-wearing in the state of Georgia.