Georgia legislators pass bill that restricts defunding police

A Georgia bill that restrict ability of local governments to defund police departments passed on Wednesday. 

State Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, said HB 286 has "put a stop to the liberal cities and far-Left activists trying to enact their dangerous."

"Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our families, which is exactly why they deserve the full support — and funding — of our communities," Gaines said in a statement. "And while cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Portland might feel comfortable slashing police budgets and compromising public safety, we won't let that happen in Georgia."

The bill states the counties cannot decrease the annual police department budget by more than 5% of the previous fiscal year and over a rolling 1-year period. The bill includes exceptions for departments with less than 10 police officers or in cities where reduced revenue requires across-the-board reductions.

The phrase "defund the police" was a common refrain among protesters in the wake of officer-involved shootings and killings in 2020.

"When I saw calls in my own community to slash the police budget by 50%, I heard from constituents across the political spectrum that concerned them because you're putting families at risk and so that's why I introduced this bill.  Excited that we got it over the finish line.  This is so important to local communities... an important step forward," said Gaines.

Georgia Democrats said the narrative that party wants to defund the police are false, but issues of trust with law enforcement need to be confronted.

"It was a tough day," House Minority Leader James Beverly, D-Macon, said after the bill passed the Georgia House. "It was a tough day because the public narrative is Democrats want to defund the police and that's just not true. We want to struggle with the issues that lead us to this moment."

WATCH: FOX 5 Atlanta live news coverage


Sign up for FOX 5 email alerts

Download the FOX 5 Atlanta app for breaking news and weather alerts.