ATLANTA - With the start of the 2020 legislative session just a week away, Gov. Brian Kemp hopes to work with state lawmakers to address some of his biggest priorities.
"There is no question there's a lot of work to do," Kemp said.
Cracking down on gangs
The governor plans to continue his push to combat criminal street gangs in Georgia. Last year, he set aside funding and established a Gang Task Force at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. This year, he would like lawmakers to amend the state's gang statute to make it easier to prosecute gang members.
"Arresting people's one thing, but we've got to be able to get the indictment and the prosecution to be effective in the state, and so we're going to be looking at how we can give those prosecutors more teeth in the statute to be able to go after these street gangs," Kemp explained.
Human trafficking: a two-pronged approach
Kemp would like to "add more teeth" to Georgia's laws relating to human traffickers, too.
"They're literally taking our children into sexual servitude," he said. "The average age is 14 years of age."
But the governor said it is not enough to go after the perpetrators. He also wants the state to find a way to offer more rehabilitation services to sex trafficking victims.
"We have to basically reacclimate these children to society because they've basically been brainwashed into this sexual servitude and this dark world that they've been in," Kemp said.
Fostering a better system
According to the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, as of May 2019, Georgia had 13,718 children in foster care.
"That is unacceptable to us," said Kemp.
The governor would like to reexamine Georgia's foster care and adoption practices.
"We need to relook again at foster care and see how we can streamline the adoption process for foster kids specifically, but adoption in general and really try to help find these kids loving homes," said Kemp.