Gov. Brian Kemp signed three bills Tuesday aimed at boosting protections for victims of human trafficking in Georgia and raising awareness for children on the dangers and signs of trafficking.
The newly enacted measures mark the latest steps by Kemp’s administration and First Lady Marty Kemp, who heads the trafficking-focused GRACE Commission, to combat human traffickers and help victims in the metro Atlanta and elsewhere in the state.
“If you are someone who’s trapped, someone currently being trafficked, know that we will not stop until you are set free,” Kemp said at a bill-signing ceremony in Buford. “We are working daily to support you and to help you, and to go after those who are victimizing you.”
Two bills the governor signed allow trafficking victims and Georgia’s attorney general to bring lawsuits against traffickers and their associates to recover monetary damages, and let victims file name-change petitions under court seal to shield their identities.
A third measure adds a course on human-trafficking awareness to grades six through 12 in Georgia schools, as well as new courses on the harms of vaping and tobacco use for all grades to supplement existing instruction on drugs and alcohol.
All three bills passed unanimously in the General Assembly during this year’s legislative session. They were sponsored by state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, who is one of Kemp’s floor leaders, and Georgia Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee.
Lawmakers also passed measures last year that Kemp signed to toughen penalties for commercial drivers with human-trafficking criminal convictions and allow victims to clear their court records of any offenses stemming from activities while they were being trafficked.
Kemp has made fighting human trafficking a priority since taking office in 2019, charging the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to crack down harder on traffickers through a multi-agency task force.
Those efforts come alongside a push led by Marty Kemp to increase awareness over how to spot trafficking and protect victims via a new hotline launched last fall to alert law enforcement officers of sexual or labor exploitation and to receive help for victims.
She also spearheaded a trafficking-awareness course on how to spot abuse that thousands of state government employees have completed over the past year.
“With these important initiatives, we can continue taking important steps to end modern-day slavery and ensure that our state is a safe haven for those who have been victimized,” Marty Kemp said at Tuesday’s bill signings. “These are only the most recent steps in the ongoing fight to end human trafficking, and certainly not our last.”