ICYMI: Governor Kemp Signs Legislation to Build a Safer, Stronger, and Healthier Georgia
Atlanta, GA – In case you missed it, Governor Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp have traveled across the state fulfilling legislative promises made to hardworking Georgians. Over the past month, Governor Kemp has signed several bills into law to ensure that Georgia continues to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
On Wednesday, April 6th, Governor Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, Lucy, and Amy Porter were on the ground in Bryan County to assess the severe weather damages caused by Tuesday's tornado. Governor Kemp issued a state of emergency in response to the damage caused by the severe storm system and tornadoes.
On Thursday, April 7th, Governor Kemp visited Kubota's new $90 million facility in Gainesville to support Georgia's agriculture industry.
On Friday, April 8th, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp attended the 112th Trooper School Graduation ceremony to honor Georgia's brave new public safety officials.
On Monday, April 11th, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp visited the Cobb Chamber of Commerce to celebrate Georgia's economic leadership in the Great Recovery and the return of $1 billion to Georgia taxpayers.
Also on April 11th, Governor Kemp announced that Norma Precision Ammunition, a subsidiary of the leading European ammunition manufacturer RUAG Ammotec, established its U.S. headquarters, manufacturing site, and warehousing and distribution operations in Chatham County. The company is currently hiring.
On Tuesday, April 12th, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp were joined by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) to unveil a new children’s book. The book, "Hey Georgia" was inspired by First Lady Marty Kemp and authored by former NFL and University of Georgia wide receiver Malcom Mitchell who made a special appearance for the event.
Later that afternoon, Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp and two of his daughters, state constitutional officers, legislators, and other special guests, signed the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act (SB 319) and a license reciprocity measure (HB 218) into law. Photos from the bill signing may be viewed here, and the full signing ceremony can be found here.
Also on April 12th, Governor Kemp announced that sustainability-focused Ecopol, a European leader in the production of biodegradable PVA film, will invest more than $38 million and create 130 new jobs at the company’s first North American facility in Spalding County.
On Wednesday, April 13th, Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, legislators, and other special guests, signed his administration's Georgia Grown Farm to Food Bank legislation (SB 396), the Freedom to Farm Act (HB 1150), and a bill to expand the elementary agriculture education program (HB 1303). The photos from the bill signing may be viewed here.
On Monday, April 18th, Governor Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp and local, state, and federal leaders, signed the first military retirement income tax exemption in Georgia history (HB 1064); a bill that expedites licenses for military spouses, insuring they are issued within 90 days of applying (HB 884); a bill that allows veterans to use their Veterans Health Identification Card from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when they seek the service of a public notary (SB 96); and a bill to honor the late Senator Jack Hill by providing taxpayers an opportunity to donate all or a portion of their annual tax refund to scholarships for disabled veterans (SB 87). The photos from the bill signing may be viewed here.
On Tuesday, April 19th, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp traveled to Quitman County to celebrate the opening of its new public library.
Also on April 19th, Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced that he has joined the American Governors' Border Strike Task Force. In the absence of federal leadership, states are partnering together to create the American Governors’ Border Strike Force to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations by increasing collaboration, improving intelligence, investing in analysis, combating human smuggling, and stopping drug flow in our states.
On Wednesday, April 20th, Governor Kemp announced that Boehringer Ingelheim, a global research-driven pharmaceutical development and manufacturing company based in Germany, will expand its Animal Health Global Innovation center in Athens, Georgia. The $57 million investment will increase laboratory space and bring additional research and development capabilities and activities, including 55 new positions, to the site.
On Thursday, April 21st, Governor Brian P. Kemp announced the establishment of a Healthcare Workforce Commission to address challenges in the hiring and retention of healthcare workers, including nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, emergency medical personnel, and other clinical and nonclinical personnel.
Also on April 21st, Governor Kemp announced that sustainability-focused East Jordan Plastics, one of the largest horticultural container manufacturers in North America, will invest more than $44 million in a new facility in Lyons. The project is expected to create 80 new jobs in Toombs County.
On Monday, April 25th, Governor Brian P. Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, Attorney General Chris Carr, members of the Georgia General Assembly, and local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, signed seven pieces of legislation to further public safety efforts in Georgia. Photos from the public safety bill signing may be viewed here, and the full signing ceremony can be found here.
On Tuesday, April 26th, Governor Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, other members of the Georgia General Assembly, and more, signed the largest income tax cut in state history into law (HB 1437). Photos from the income tax cut bill signing may be viewed here, and the full ceremony can be found here.
Later that afternoon, Governor Kemp announced that Jack Link’s, the global leader in meat snacks, will create 800 jobs and invest $450 million as the company expands to Georgia with a new manufacturing facility in Perry. The announcement was made with company, state, and local officials at an event at the future home of Jack Link’s.
On Thursday, April 28th, Governor Kemp, joined by First Lady Marty Kemp, parents and students, education leaders, members of the General Assembly, and state and local elected officials, signed legislation that empowers students and parents when it comes to the education of their children, as well as Georgia's hardworking teachers. There were seven bills signed during a ceremony at the Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center. The photos from the education bill signing may be viewed here, and the full ceremony can be found here.
On Friday, April 29th, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed four bills designed to strengthen and enhance Georgia's robust workforce. The legislation includes HB 1435, which provides needs-based financial aid to eligible higher education students who experience a "gap" in their tuition funding; SB 397, which recognizes all other state approved high school equivalency programs in Georgia and extends a voucher to cover all associated test fees; HB 1331, which streamlines employment services funded by Title III of the Federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act to remove duplication and better assist unemployed Georgians in finding a job or starting a new career; and SB 379, which enables the Technical College System of Georgia to create and expand a registered employee apprenticeship program.
On Monday, May 2nd, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed major opioid legislation to secure $636 million for state and local governments to bolster critical treatment and prevention efforts (SB 500). The funds are made available by the $26 billion multistate opioid settlement with Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen – the nation's three major pharmaceutical distributors – and opioid manufacturer and marketer Johnson & Johnson.
On Tuesday, May 3rd, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed HB 1 (the Forming Open and Robust University Minds Act) into law, which secures freedom of speech on Georgia's university and technical college system campuses by preventing the creation or elimination of any existing "Free Speech Zones" and designating all unrestricted outdoor areas of campus as public forums.
On Wednesday, May 4th, Governor Kemp signed SB 116, a bill allowing nonprofits to offer free maternity supportive housing residences and resources for pregnant and postpartum women.
Later that day, Governor Kemp announced that MANA Nutrition, a Georgia-based nonprofit that produces ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to fight global malnutrition, celebrated breaking ground on an expansion of their Ben Hill County facility. With more than $36 million in investment, this is the company’s largest expansion investment to date. MANA will also add 10 new jobs, bringing the company’s employment in the county to 80.
Also on May 4th, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed SB 332, also known as the Inform Consumers Act, which prevents criminals from selling goods stolen from retail stores on any online marketplace platform. The legislation establishes financial and contact information requirements for high-volume sellers to online marketplaces and requires that such platforms establish an option for consumers to report suspicious activity. It also requires sellers to provide their contact information to consumers when their annual revenue on the marketplace exceeds $20,000. Sellers who do not comply will be prohibited from using the online marketplaces further, and the Attorney General is now empowered to enforce compliance with these disclosure requirements.
On Thursday, May 5th, during Georgia Small Business Week, Governor Kemp signed SB 331, HB 1058, and HB 1443 into law to help cut red tape and ensure Georgia has a stable, pro-business environment that hardworking Georgians and Georgia companies can count on.
On May 6th, Governor Brian P. Kemp signed seven bills designed to benefit patients in Georgia and strengthen the state's healthcare system.
Gov. Kemp Signs Constitutional Carry into Law
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed a law allowing residents to carry handguns in public without a license or background check.
"(This bill) makes sure that law-abiding Georgians, including our daughters and your family too, can protect themselves without having to have permission from your state government," Kemp said Tuesday before signing the bill into law. "This is an issue that I campaigned on in 2018 alongside so many members that are standing with us today. And by working together, we have gotten it across the finish line."
Making good on a 2018 campaign promise, Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, referred to by backers as “constitutional carry.”
Kemp said he was signing the bill because it was what was right for Georgians.
Kemp said permit-less carry was another of several steps he’s taken to tamp down crime, citing legislation he’s pushed to increase penalties on people convicted of illegal street racing and human trafficking.
Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation to Support Georgia's No. 1 Ag Industry
The Georgia Farm Bureau president issued the following statement in response to the Georgia Legislature completing final passage of the Freedom to Farm Act:
“Georgia Farm Bureau has long believed that Georgia farmers have the right to make a living without fear of being sued out of business for nuisance over normal farming practices. The Freedom to Farm Bill protects that right for producers who operate in the way they are supposed to, in the places they are supposed to.
“We’re grateful that our state lawmakers understand the importance of protecting Georgia’s largest industry, and we thank those who supported this bill. I especially want to thank the GFB Public Policy team, which led the effort along with other ag organizations to help protect the future of our younger generations who want to farm.”
Governor Brian Kemp visited Dickey Farms Wednesday to officially sign House Bill 1150, House Bill 1303, and Senate Bill 396. He says improving Georgia’s agriculture industry has been a top priority for his administration.
“Protecting our farms are important, helping with food insecurity is important,” Governor Kemp said. “But the ag education piece for our young people so that we have future farmers and future agribusiness leaders, and future agriscientists… it’s so important.”
“To make sure things work smoothly with our agriculture and giving them some legal protection, so they can farm. It’s a big bill that’s been worked on for many years,” Representative Dickey explained.
Gov. Brian Kemp traveled to the South Georgia Farm Belt Wednesday to sign three agricultural bills, including legislation making it harder to file nuisance lawsuits against farmers.
Kemp said protecting farming is more important than ever with war raging in Ukraine, Europe’s breadbasket.
The Freedom to Farm Act was endorsed by the Georgia Farm Bureau, the Georgia Agribusiness Council, the Georgia Poultry Federation and the Georgia Forestry Association.
Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation to Support Georgia Military Servicemembers and Families
Military retirement income, up to a certain threshold, will no longer be subject to the state income tax in Georgia, after Gov. Brian Kemp signed a law Monday to put the new policy into effect.
"Yesterday I was proud to sign HB 1064 which creates a state income tax exemption for retired military pay for the first time in GA history. Our heroic veterans made a sacrifice to protect our nation, and this bill rewards their service & strengthens GA's world-class workforce," Gov. Kemp tweeted Tuesday.
Gov. Brian Kemp signed four bills into law Monday that are designed to help military service members, their spouses and veterans, including an exemption on military retiree income taxes.
Kemp told audience members that Georgia was the only state in the region and “one of only a few in the country” that fully taxed military retirees up to the age of 62. Kemp’s office said it’s the first such tax exemption in state history.
Smith told the Ledger-Enquirer that Kemp was instrumental in helping get the bill passed. “Gov. Kemp said this was part of his platform, and if he had not been involved we would still be hoping for (the bill’s passage,)” Smith said.
Also related to income taxes, Georgians will now have the option to donate all or part of their state income tax return to disabled veterans.
Per SB 87, Georgia tax return filers in 2023 will begin seeing an option on their returns that will allow them to select to contribute any part of their tax return to the Technical System of Georgia for awarding scholarships to veterans with service-related disabilities.
Another new law (SB 96) allows veterans to use their Veterans Health Identification Card from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a form of identification when they seek the service of a public notary. In addition, a bill (HB 884) that expedites license approvals to within 90 days for military spouses is also now law. Initially, expedited processes for licenses granted for a profession, business or trade were only granted to the veteran.
Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday signed legislation he hailed as a way to help Georgia’s military families.
Kemp noted at the ceremony that Georgia has the fifth largest military population in the country, with almost 700,000 former service members and over 101,000 military retirees living here.
“These men and women, and others like them around our state who proudly wear a uniform, have chosen careers of service above self,” he said at a signing ceremony. “They make our nation stronger, they defend our freedoms and way of life, and they make our communities better places to call home.”
That bill provides taxpayers an opportunity to donate all or a portion of their annual tax refund to scholarships for disabled veterans.
“We’re thanking them for their service. We got so many great veterans in this state. It’s incredible. They serve our country. They’ve been serving our state, and this is our way to thank you,” said Kemp.
He added that this is also a workforce issue and wants to keep these vets as retirees in the Peach State. They have significant experience and work ethic, and when they go into their second career, he wants them to stay here in Georgia.
Kemp signed legislation providing the first military retirement income tax exemption in Georgia history. He also signed bills to expedite the issuance of professional and business licenses to military spouses and allow veterans to use their Veterans Health Identification Card when they seek the service of a public notary.
A fourth measure, named in honor of the late state Sen. Jack Hill, will allow taxpayers to donate all or part of their annual state income tax refund to scholarships for disabled veterans.
Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation to Support Law Enforcement and Protect Georgians
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed seven bills he says will support law enforcement officers throughout Georgia and toughen penalties for criminals.
"Every single criminal in Georgia is on notice; they will find nothing but trouble and punishment in our state," Kemp said during remarks before signing House bills 1134,1188, 1216 and 1441 and Senate bills 84, 358 and 479.
HB 1134 paves the way for a gang prosecution unit within the state attorney general’s office, while HB 1216 increases penalties for drivers fleeing police. HB 1188 allows prosecutors to charge each act of child molestation as a separate offense.
Whenever there’s gang-related crime, it’s up to the individual judicial circuits to prosecute. This new law allows the Attorney General’s Office and their team to join the fight in the courtroom.
This week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed House Bill 1134 into law, saying it’ll enable Attorney General Chris Carr and a team of prosecutors in a new Gang Prosecution Unit to join local prosecutors when working to remove criminals from the streets.
“Gangs don’t care about the county borders, they do whatever they want. So if you think about a criminal street gang here in the Coastal Empire, you might have a gang that’s working in Bryan County, Effingham County and Chatham County…and they’re all neighbors of each other…those are three different judicial circuits,” said Brad Thompson, lead ADA with the Eastern Judicial Circuit.
With this new law, Thompson says the AG’s Office could now handle prosecution that would cover all three counties.
One of the new laws, House Bill 1134, received overwhelming support from both the house and senate, and will allow state law enforcement officers to have more authority in helping local jurisdictions combat gang activity.
National policing expert Dr. Cedric Alexander, who used to oversee Dekalb County's Police Department, said state level support is vital to truly ridding communities of gang activity.
“It’s a win for the community in the fact that it goes after these gang members and their associations, and it’s a win for local law enforcement and DA offices that are very much overwhelmed in cities like Atlanta and across the country," he said.
Among the bills Kemp signed was legislation giving Georgia’s attorney general the authority to prosecute gang activity along with local prosecutors.
The governor also signed bills allowing suspected child molesters to be charged separately for each image of child pornography or incident of child molestation and allowing separate charges for each illegal firearm seized from a suspect.
Another part of the package Kemp signed Monday increases penalties for fleeing or eluding law enforcement. And he signed a workforce development measure providing tuition reimbursement to former service members who enroll in training to become a law enforcement officer.
“We will use every resource at our disposal to rid our communities of crime and keep Georgia families safe,” Kemp said.
Gov. Kemp Signs Largest Income Tax Cut in State History Into Law
Gov. Brian Kemp signed the largest tax cut in Georgia history Tuesday, legislation he said when fully implemented will save a family of four with an annual household income of $60,000 more than $600 a year.
“Government should take in the least amount possible needed to serve the people properly,” Kemp said during a signing ceremony in Bonaire, the hometown of Georgia House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon, the tax cut bill’s chief sponsor. “Taxpayer dollars are the people’s money, not the government’s.”
Kemp said the income tax cut represents the long-term component of a tax reduction package lawmakers approved this year, including a one-time $1.1 billion tax refund, a temporary suspension of the state’s gasoline sales tax to put a dent in rising pump prices, and legislation he signed last week exempting military retirees from the state income tax.
House Bill 1437 sets the state’s tax level at a flat 5.49% rate for the tax year beginning Jan. 1, 2024, which lowers to 4.99% for the tax year starting Jan. 1, 2029. The measure received broad bipartisan support in both chambers of the state legislature.
"This couldn’t have come at a better time for Georgia’s small businesses," NFIB State Director Nathan Humphrey said in a statement. "Skyrocketing inflation, a spike in fuel costs, and ongoing supply chain disruptions are putting tremendous financial pressures on Main Street businesses. HB 1437 is going to relieve some of that pressure by easing some of that pressure.
"HB 1437 is going to help small business owners because most small businesses in the state are organized as pass-through entities, meaning their owners pay state income taxes at the individual rather than the corporate rate," Humphrey added.
HB 14-37 is the largest tax cut Georgians have ever seen, and only the second tax cut in Georgia history.
Residents will also no longer pay taxes on their first $30,000.
According to Ron Busby, tax director at Clifton Lipford Hardison & Parker, this new bill may be sprinkling some more money into your pockets as it takes Georgia's current tax rate from 5.75% gradually down to 4.99%. Busby breaks down how that'll work.
“The first decrease will be in 2024, when it'll go down to 5.49%, and then from there it will go down 0.1% each year until it gets down to 4.99% in 2029,” he says.
Busby says that'll reduce taxes pretty significantly; almost a full point.
"When you combine that with the increase in the standard deduction, then that will really increase because you're gonna have a smaller amount that you're figuring tax on at a lower rate,” he said.
Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign Georgia's largest income tax cut into law on Tuesday.
The move is predicted to slash taxes for families by more than one billion dollars.
It would also increase standard exemptions covering amounts someone could earn before beginning to pay state income tax.
Gov. Kemp announces Jack Link’s new Georgia Manufacturing Facility, set to create 800 jobs in Houston County
Governor Brian Kemp, along with the company's CEO Troy Link, and former Governor Sonny Perdue, made the announcement Tuesday.
"It’s that quality of workforce and the training support that they get is one of the many reasons Georgia continues to be the designation state for business, and is one of the reasons Jack Link's tells us that drew them to this community,” Governor Brian Kemp said at Tuesday’s announcement.
The beef company has several plants in the Midwest, but the Perry plant will be its largest.
Jack Link's CEO Troy Link says it's sure to be an economic driver, claiming to bring in at least 800 jobs.
Perry Mayor Randall Walker says Jack Link’s choosing to build in Perry, is a reflection of the superior quality of life the city council is trying to create.
“One of the things we’ve talked about constantly is our young professionals who are leaving Perry because there’s no good place for them to work or earn a good living,” Mayor Walker said. “This will offer that opportunity.”
Governor Kemp says the food processing industry in Georgia, works hand-in-hand with the agricultural products that local farmers produce. He says Jack Link’s is just another example of a company that’s helping build local industry.
“Middle Georgia is really a place where our state can continue to grow and give people opportunity,” the Governor explained. “But also you can see it’s a great quality of life here.”
“We are proud to have a company of this caliber choose Houston County for the addition of their largest manufacturing facility to date,” said Development Authority of Houston County Chairman Ben Hulbert. “From our first meeting with the company, we were struck by their relationship-driven approach in fulfilling their vision to be the ‘World’s #1 Protein Snacking Company.’ The company’s values closely align with the character of our community. This project is an example of a supportive group of community leaders representing Houston County, the City of Perry, the Houston County School District, Central Georgia Technical College, and other key stakeholders partnering with a premier company; with the ultimate goal of bringing quality jobs to our citizens. We are excited to see the relationship with Jack Link’s continue to grow as they become our neighbors and friends.”
Pat Wilson, Georgia’s commissioner of economic development, noted that the food processing industry continues to grow in the state.
“We have a fantastic food processing industry that is thriving,” Wilson said. “Agriculture continues to be the backbone of the Georgia economy. But food processing last year grew by 233%, which is amazing year-over-year.
“This shows that Georgia has some amazing assets that we continue to offer companies: educated skilled workforce, a fantastic pro-business environment, low cost of doing business, connectivity through all our infrastructure: ports, airport, logistics, railroad. We’ve got it all, and that is exactly what Jack Link’s is to take advantage of going forward.”
Jack Link’s protein snacks announced Tuesday that it will build a $450 million factory in the middle Georgia town of Perry, hiring 800 people after it opens in late 2023. Link Snacks says it is the largest maker of protein snacks worldwide, making beef jerky and other meat snacks sold under its own name and other brands.
Gov. Brian Kemp and members of the Link family who own the Minong, Wisconsin, company, gathered with other officials Tuesday in a 120-acre (50-hectare) pecan orchard in Perry where the factory will be built.
Kemp said it’s Georgia’s largest economic development project outside metro Atlanta this year.
"Governor Kemp has been phenomenal to talk to and work with, and Sonny [Perdue], you’ve been great to give me the assurance of all the commitments of the state,” CEO Troy Link said. "The county of Houston — wonderful people who we’ve gotten to know, and we look forward to getting to know each and every one of you more so on a first-name basis as we build this project out.
"And the City of Perry, all the local business leaders — this will be a strong partnership with all of you and the collaboration is really what got us here today and what we will continue to build on. Like Angie [Gheesling] said, [we’re] family owned and operated, and we’re just excited to join this business community and join the great State of Georgia and all the wonderful business leaders and community leaders that are here.”
“When I ran for governor, I promised to bring opportunities to all parts of our state, especially the rural communities that have been overlooked in the past,” Kemp said. “Today is the latest fruit of our hard labor. Thanks to Jack Link’s, 800 quality jobs and $450 million in investment from a great, family-owned company are on their way to this region. By taking advantage of the state’s award-winning workforce program, Quick Start, I am confident that Jack Link’s will find success here as they work to meet consumer demand and quickly fill the available positions with hardworking Georgians.”
Gov. Kemp Signs Legislation Empowering Students, Parents, and Teachers
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a series of seven education bills into law Thursday morning at the Forsyth County Arts and Learning Center in Cumming.
A handful of them have drawn a lot of attention, including a bill aimed at Critical Race Theory. The measure bans the teaching of nine "divisive concepts" in Georgia classrooms, including that the United States is "fundamentally racist." That bill also tasks the Georgia High School Association with deciding whether transgender girls should be allowed to participate in school sports.
"I believe that oftentimes government in the past has been very reactive," said state Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville, who sponsored the divisive concepts legislation. "I believe what this is able to do is try to drown out the national media that has tried to politicize these type of things, be proactive before it becomes ingrained in our classrooms and allow parents and teachers and the school systems to keep children at the center and not allow those things to creep in."
Gov. Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 226 into law on Thursday, answering the question of how schools deal with someone objecting to a book or material in the school library.
Prior to SB 226 becoming law, anyone in Coweta County could make a complaint. Under policy, the complaint goes to the media committee made up of parents and teachers for review.
"In my view, [lawmakers are] taking these, really heated sometimes, debates that are going on all over our country. They're actually tackling it, and they're coming down on the side of students and teachers and parents. That's not a bad place to be," Jackson added.
Other signed bills will require the removal of obscene materials from school libraries, ensure transparency at school board meetings, double on the current donation cap for student scholarships, create a committee that will look at ways to ensure student financial literacy and allow retired teachers to return to the classroom full-time in areas with high demand.
“Making sure parents have the ultimate say in their child’s education should not be controversial,” he added.