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A law to strengthen public safety was signed in Georgia

FORSYTH – Governor Kemp joined other state and local leaders in signing legislation to strengthen public safety and first responders.

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Governor Brian P. Kemp, accompanied by First Lady Marty Kemp, Speaker Jon Burns, Attorney General Chris Carr, Commissioner John King, members of the General Assembly and other state and local leaders, signed a comprehensive legislative package, including HB 130. Designed to ensure public safety strengthen and support first responders.

HB 130, sponsored by Representative Matthew Gambillsigned by Representatives Bill Hitchens, Bill Werkheiser, Eddie Lumsden and Yasmin Nealand carried in the Senate by Senator Bo HatchettAllows the Georgia Student Finance Commission to repay up to $20,000 in student loans held by a full-time peace officer who has completed five years of service. To be eligible, you must either have been appointed as a full-time POST-certified state or local officer on or after January 1, 2024, or be an already enrolled officer who has been pursuing a degree in criminal justice for at least one year.

In addition to HB 130, this legislative package strengthens Georgia's ban on sanctuary cities, empowers POST-certified prison guards, cracks down on criminals who introduce contraband into our prisons, conduct drive-by shootings or “SWAT-ing,” and ensures additional disease-specific insurance benefits are offered to first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a traumatic event in the line of duty that prevents them from carrying out their duties.

“Georgians have witnessed the catastrophic impact of lawlessness on communities across the country.” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “Thanks to the work of our legislative partners in the General Assembly, we can once again send the message that such lawlessness will have no safe harbor in Georgia. I am proud to sign legislation that will boost our law enforcement recruitment, make our communities safer, and give our justice system even tougher tools to bring violent criminals to justice.”

Along with HB 130, Governor Kemp signed the following nine laws:

HB 1105, sponsored by Representative Jesse Petreasigned by Representatives J Collins, Josh Bonner, Emory Dunahoo, Matt Barton and Rick Jaspersechanged by Representative Houston Gainesin the Senate carried by SSenator John Albersand made a priority by Lieutenant Governor Burt Jones and Speaker Jon BurnsCodifies existing prison procedures for determining the nationality and immigration status of incarcerated individuals and requires the Department of Corrections and sheriffs to report on the illegal immigrants in their custody.

SB 37, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertsonsigned by Senators John Albers, Bo Hatchett, Carden Summers, Kay Kirkpatrick and Lee Andersonand carried around the house by Representative J Collinsallows sheriffs serving in more than one court to receive a court allowance for up to two courts, allows the governor, a county sheriff, or a police chief to request use of the newly reconfigured GPSTC law enforcement unit, and allows prison guards to those of the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council have certified that they have powers of arrest within the prison or its security lines or when a person turns himself in at the prison.

SB 63, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertsonsigned by Senators Steve Gooch, Matt Brass, Jason Anavitarte, John Kennedy and Frank Ginnand carried around the house by Representative Houston Gainesadds 30 felonies to the definition of “restricted bail offense,” establishes that individuals and businesses may post no more than three cash bonds per year, and requires businesses that raise funds to secure the release of individuals to adhere to the same requirements to subject such as Professional Bail Agents and amends various laws related to the bail forfeiture procedure in order to reduce the number of cases in which a surety has to forfeit a bail.

SB 159, sponsored by Senator Randy Robertsonsigned by Senators John Albers, Kay Kirkpatrick and Larry Walkerworn by Representative Steven Sainzand prioritized by Narrator Jon Burnsincreases penalties for providing prohibited items to inmates, with stricter penalties for those who work in the facility and provide contraband, and for using an unmanned aircraft to photograph a place of detention with the intent to commit a crime.

HB 1058, sponsored by Representative Lauren McDonaldsigned by Representatives Bill Hitchens, Alan Powell, Eddie Lumsden, J Collins and Carter Barrettcarried in the Senate by Senator Randy Robertsonand endorsed by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Colonel William Hitchensserves as an annual update for motor carriers.

HB 1193, sponsored by Representative Lauren McDonaldsigned by Representatives Bill Hitchens, Eddie Lumsden, Soo Hong and J Collinsand endorsed by the Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Colonel William Hitchensstandardizes the use of flashing or rotating yellow lights across all code sections.

HB 451, sponsored by Representative Devan Seabaughsigned by Representatives Gregg Kennard, Bill Hitchens, Houston Gaines, Beth Camp and Derrick McCollumand carried in the Senate by Senator Randy Robertson, requires all public entities in Georgia to provide additional disease-specific insurance benefits – either self-insured or through an insurer – to first responders who are clinically diagnosed by a qualified diagnostician with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to their exposure to job-related traumatic events that prevent them from doing so to fulfill their professional duties. This bill is also known as the Ashley Wilson Act, named after a Gwinnett County police officer whose partner died as a result of gunshot wounds sustained in the line of duty.

SB 421, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixonsigned by Senators John Albers, Kay Kirkpatrick, Randy Robertson, Kim Jackson and Ed Setzlerworn in the house by Representative Matt Reevesand prioritized by Lieutenant Governor Burt Jonesadds to the crime of first-degree criminal damage to property a drive-by shooting that damages a building, creates the crime of drive-by shooting, and increases the penalties for making a false alarm, commonly referred to as “SWAT-ing.”

SB 10, sponsored by Sen. Emanuel Jonessigned by Senators Harold Jones, Gloria Butler, John Albers, Valencia Seay and Donzella Jamesand carried around the house by Representative Yasmin Nealcreates a penalty for promoting a drag race and increases penalties for driving a vehicle during a drag race or laying drag races.

Governor Kemp thanks everyone whose diligent work and efforts led to his signing these bills into law.

Anna Harden

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