Kemp signs new laws fighting human trafficking, adjusting foster care system

Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia holds a press briefing from the state capitol Thursday afternoon May 21, 2020 (FOX 5 Atlanta).

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed five new bills designed to help improve the state's foster care system and strengthen penalties for human trafficking.

On Tuesday, Kemp signed House Bill 823, 911, 912, 993, and Senate Bill 439 while surrounded by legislative leaders.

"Today is an important step forward to ensure a brighter, safer future for Georgia's children in foster care and bring an end to human trafficking in our state," said Governor Kemp. "As these bills take the force of law, we are fulfilling an ongoing commitment to enhance our foster care system, achieve positive outcomes for our children, and hold the perpetrators of human trafficking accountable. I am grateful for the hard work done by the General Assembly on this important legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work together to safeguard our children's futures."

Two of the bills, House Bill 823 and 911, are part of an initiative by first lady Marty Kemp to end human trafficking in Georgia.

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House Bill 823 makes it so that anyone who knowingly uses a commercial motor vehicle while committing any crimes involving sexual or labor trafficking will receive a lifetime ban from working as a commercial motor vehicle driver.

House Bill 911 removes a loophole involving sexual misconduct by a foster parent and strengthens penalties for the crime.

"I want to thank the sponsors of HB 823 and HB 911 for working alongside Governor Kemp and I to put Georgia's children first, hold bad actors accountable, and ultimately bring an end to the evil of human trafficking in our state," said First Lady Marty Kemp. "This fight is far from over, and it is one that we are focused on winning. Every day, we will continue to do our part to keep our children safe and ensure that those who would put them in harm's way know that they have no place in Georgia."

Along with those bills, House Bill 912 prioritizes foster care cases in Georgia Juvenile Court system, allowing cases to go through quicker while also requiring the court to document their compliance with the new regulations.

The bill also allows for the Georgia Department of Human Services to adjust levels of training for foster families depending on details like the parent's experience in the system, the child's age, and more.

“HB 912 incorporates several provisions that will streamline our foster care system, and I am proud to see this piece of legislation become law,” Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan said. “By prioritizing foster care cases in Juvenile Court and allowing The Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) to modify training requirements for experienced foster families – Georgia is providing a path for more foster parents to take part in this life-changing process.”

All five of the bills were proposed in the Georgia Legislature over the last session and are now put into law. 

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