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Political Reporter’s Notebook: Abrams Proposes Teacher Raises and New Gun Safety Laws

Plus, Dickens pitches a plan to limit investor purchasing of Atlanta real estate.

Stacey Abrams speaks to the media during a press conference at the Israel Baptist Church in Kirkwood in May. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Happy Juneteenth weekend!

Georgia’s 2022 midterm election contenders spent the week making national headlines — some for the wrong reasons.

Stacey Abrams revealed her plan to give sizable raises to teachers throughout the state before laying out a new policy proposal to reduce gun violence.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told Bloomberg he wants to limit investors from acquiring land in the city’s red-hot real estate market. 

And Republican U.S. Senate nominee Herschel Walker was forced to defend himself against accusations of being an absentee father as a new poll shows he’s tied with Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock in their race — despite being less popular with Black voters than Donald Trump.

Here’s a rundown:

Abrams proposes new gun safety laws, larger teacher raises than Kemp

Recently, Abrams — the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee — accepted an endorsement from the Georgia Association of Educators and unveiled a plan to increase the state’s average teacher salary from $62,500 to $73,500 during her first term.

About 26% of Georgia teachers are Black, according to a December 2020 Governor’s Office of Student Achievement report. In May, Abrams’ opponent — Republican incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp — signed into law a 2023 fiscal year budget that includes a $2,000 raise for K-12 educators.

Georgia’s average teacher salary during the 2020-2021 school year ranked 21st in the nation, according to the National Educators Association. Bumping it up to $73,500 annually would move the state into the top 10 nationally.

“When our educators are highly valued and fairly compensated for their commitment to education, our children benefit,” Abrams said in a statement. “Building One Georgia requires that we prioritize and invest in every generation — and that begins with public education.”

On Thursday, Abrams also revealed a gun control plan designed to reduce the number of deaths caused by firearms in the state. Georgia’s 2020 gun death rate ranked 15th in the nation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

If elected, Abrams told Axios, she will advocate for “the obvious and the commonsense gun safety rules that do not infringe upon anyone’s ability to carry,” including issuing a state red flag law and closing gun show background check loopholes.

The former state lawmaker from Atlanta also said she would roll back several pro-gun laws, including the permitless carry that Kemp signed in April. She also cited the 2017 “campus carry” legislation, and the 2014 Safe Carry Protection Act— nicknamed the “guns everywhere” law by critics.

The measure, signed into law by then-Gov. Nathan Deal, permits Georgians to bring firearms into public places including churches, schools, and bars.

Dickens calls for limits on real estate investment in Atlanta

The city’s mayor told Bloomberg on Tuesday that he wants the government to find a way to put restrictions on investors acquiring land in Atlanta’s real estate market.

Roughly a third of Atlanta metro area homes purchased during the first quarter of fiscal year 2022 were acquired by investors, according to Redfin.

Their activity in January caused median home prices to jump 23.5% from the same period a year ago and has had a disproportionate negative impact on prospective Black homebuyers.

In May, the median Atlanta home price was $456,000, according to Redfin, an 11.2% year-over-year increase.

Dickens proposed enacting a localized version of the federal Community Reinvestment Act. The 1977 law encouraged banks to meet the needs of people living in their communities.

“The CRA was there to protect the existing homeowners — the community in one way — by making sure that we get reinvestment in there,” he told Bloomberg. “This could be some 2.0 or some next-level version of this CRA just to allow for communities to not be overrun by bank investors.”

Walker’s latest fumble(s)

New polling data released Tuesday shows Walker and Warnock statistically tied in their U.S. Senate matchup. The East Carolina University survey, conducted June 6-9, also showed just 7% of Black voters in Georgia support Walker over Warnock.

That’s less than the 11% of Black Georgians who supported Trump in 2020. 

The former Heisman trophy-winning running back spent the week playing defense on the campaign trail after reports surfaced indicating he has multiple children he previously hadn’t acknowledged publicly.

The 60-year-old Walker is the devout Christian GOP nominee running to unseat Warnock in November. During past interviews and campaign stops, Walker has touted his faith and the importance of Black fathers being active and present in their children’s lives.

“I want to apologize to the African American community, because the fatherless home is a major, major problem,” Walker told The Charlie Kirk Show a month later.

The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that Walker has a ”secret” 10-year-old son that he conceived out of wedlock. A day later, the news website revealed Walker has two additional children that the public was unaware of, not including his 22-year-old son, conservative internet personality Christian Walker.

In an emailed statement obtained by Capital B Atlanta, Walker confirmed he has a total of four children — “three sons and a daughter.” He also accused the Daily Beast of mischaracterizing his relationship with his children.

“They’re not ‘undisclosed’ — they’re my kids,” Walker said. “I support them all and love them all. I’ve never denied my children. … Saying I hide my children because I don’t discuss them with reporters to win a campaign? That’s outrageous. I can take the heat, that’s politics — but leave my kids alone.”