FILE - Georgia state capitol building

Georgia state capitol building in Atlanta, Ga.

State Labor Commissioner: Four MSA’s hit record unemployment rates

Four of Georgia’s 12 metropolitan statistical areas hit record lows for September, according to information from Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.

Macon has a 3.3 percent unemployment rate for September, Warner Robbins and Augusta have unemployment rates of 3 percent for the month while Columbus’ 3.6 percent is a record low for September. The state unemployment rate is 3.5 percent.

“September was a really remarkable month in our local communities,” Butler said in a news release. “Four MSAs hit their lowest all-time unemployment rate. All 12 added to their total number of employed residents. Some set records for jobs or labor force. It's good to see most of our communities around the state performing so well.”

Bill would allow student athletes to be compensated for using their image

College athletes could legally be paid by companies that use their likeness or image if a bill proposed by Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, passes. The bill will also forbid public and private schools from deeming a player ineligible for accepting compensation.

Mitchell said in a statement he plans to pass a bill similar to California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” during the 2020 session of the General Assembly.

“Not only is this an idea whose time has come, but Georgia schools would be at a decisive disadvantage when it comes to recruiting with other states that join California in implementing this act, if we fail to do the same,” Mitchell said.

Georgia’s first black state senator dies

Former state senator Leroy Johnson died Thursday at the age of 91, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Johnson was the first black man elected to the Georgia Senate after reconstruction in 1962, taking his oath of office at the same time as another freshman senator, future president Jimmy Carter. Johnson served until 1975.

Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted condolences to the family, saying "Senator Leroy Johnson was an incredible public servant who fought to make Georgia a better and more inclusive state to all.”

PSC Commissioner Tim Echols holding public forum at North Georgia

Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols will host a public forum on energy policy on Monday at the University of North Georgia.

Echols will field questions about recent rate increase requests from Georgia Power and Atlanta Gas Light, progress on Plant Vogtle and the state’s solar energy plan.

The meeting will be held from noon-12:50 p.m. in the Nesbitt Academic Building of the UNG, which is located on Mathis Drive in Gainesville.

Kentucky state senator to testify before Georgia Senate committee on horse racing

The Senate Study Committee on Gaming and Para-Mutual Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia’s Equine Industry will hear from Kentucky Senator and Majority Leader Damon Thayer when they meet on Tuesday.

The committee has been discussing the possibility of legalizing horse racing and para-mutual wagering. At their last meeting, senators heard a report from Deputy Legislative Counsel D. Stuart Morelli that indicated the issue may have to be approved by voters as a constitutional amendment.

The Georgia House Special Committee on Economic Growth is also discussing the issue. Both committees are expected to issue reports after they disband on Dec. 1.

The Senate study committee begins its meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Also on the agenda are Dean Reeves, president of the Georgia Horse Racing Coalition and two veterinarians from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.