New bills take aim at human trafficking in Georgia

January 25, 2021
1 min read

State lawmakers plan to bring new legislation aimed at helping victims of human trafficking in Georgia recover from abuse and protect their identities, Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp announced Monday.

One bill would change state law to give privacy protections for human-trafficking survivors who want to legally change their names, Marty Kemp said at a news conference. Another bill would let survivors sue their traffickers for damages in civil court.

A third bill would require anyone seeking to obtain or renew a commercial driver’s license in Georgia to complete a human-trafficking awareness course, the first lady said.

“We are dedicated to giving survivors opportunities for promising futures and holding their captors accountable,” said Marty Kemp, who heads up the human trafficking-focused GRACE Commission.

The slate of bills on deck in the current legislative session would follow legislation passed last year that toughened penalties on foster parents engaging in improper sexual behavior with children in their care and on commercial drivers with human-trafficking criminal convictions.

Legislation was also passed last year allowing victims to clear their court records of any offenses stemming from activities while they were being trafficked.

The governor has made fighting human trafficking a priority since taking office in 2019. On top of tasking his wife to lead the GRACE Commission, he charged the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with cracking down harder on traffickers through a multi-agency task force created last year.

State officials also created a new hotline in September for Georgians to alert law enforcement officers of sexual or labor exploitation and to receive help for victims. Thousands of state government employees have also taken a trafficking-awareness course during the past year on how to spot abuse.

“There is always more work to be done,” Kemp said Monday. “We will not let up. We’re still fighting.”

The number for the state’s human-trafficking hotline is 1-866-ENDHTGA.

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