Governor Brian Kemp Signs Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation

Brian Kemp Signing Legislation

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed multiple anti-human trafficking bills into law on Wednesday to hold both “traffickers and buyers” accountable.

“For years Georgia was considered a hot spot for human trafficking,” said the governor in a press release on Wednesday, “but thanks to the GRACE Commission, under the leadership of First Lady Marty Kemp, we have established Georgia as a national leader in this fight by passing legislation that cracks down on both traffickers and buyers while also, and even more importantly, empowering survivors.”

Senate Bill 370, supported by First Lady Marty Kemp, the Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion, and Education (GRACE) Commission, “includes convenience stores, body art studios, businesses that employ licensed massage therapists, manufacturing facilities, and medical offices in the list of businesses that must post the human trafficking notice.” State Senator Mike Hodges (R-Brunswick) sponsored this bill.

The legislation also enables the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy to inspect “massage therapy businesses and board recognized massage therapy educational programs without notice” and “requires massage therapists” to display “a passport sized photo with their license certificate” at work. Board members will now need to complete mandated “human trafficking awareness training” each year.

“I could not be more proud to sign the ninth piece of legislation brought forward by the GRACE Commission since its formation only 5 years ago,” the governor said.

Brian Kemp also signed Senate Bill 993 into law.

The bill, sponsored by State Representative Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), makes the “grooming of a minor” a felony offense and “prohibits the defense from prosecution for offenses relating to visual mediums depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct on the basis that the visual medium was created, adapted, or modified to show an identifiable minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.…”

Additionally, House Bill 1201, sponsored by State Representative Houston Gaines (R-Athens), now “allows human trafficking survivors that received first offender or conditional discharge status the ability to vacate such status for certain crimes, so long as the crime was a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.” The new law also “defines the term ‘commercial sexual exploitation recovery center.'”

Susan Norris, founder of Rescuing Hope, an organization in Marietta that fights against sex trafficking, attended the bill signing at the Capitol. “This is yet another big win for those fighting human trafficking in Georgia and those we serve. We cannot thank Office of Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp for their continued efforts in this fight,” she said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.

Presently, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit “has 36 defendants who are currently under indictment for sex or labor trafficking, with some facing charges in multiple jurisdictions around the state.”

Created in 2019, Carr’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit “rescued and assisted 129 victims” in its statewide efforts last year. “The Unit has obtained 32 new convictions since January 2023,” according to information in a press release on Tuesday.

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Debra McClure is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and The Star News Network. Follow Debra on X / Twitter




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