Kemp bill signing Augusta 2023 edited

Gov. Kemp goes on bill-signing frenzy

Apr 27, 2023

Over the past week, Gov. Brian Kemp has crisscrossed the state approving a slew of legislative packages passed in the Georgia Statehouse. A significant number of the bills being signed into law target criminal justice and public safety. And more bills are expected to be signed in the coming week.

What’s Happening

Cracking down on gang activity, those who recruit children into gangs will now face more severe penalties under new legislation signed into law Wednesday by Kemp. The initiative, SB 44 - the “Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act” - was a top priority for the governor during this year's legislative session.

The bill, Kemp said, will “send a clear message to gangs in our state: Come after our children, and we will come after you,” adding that it will “help us stop the spread of gangs, hold offenders accountable, and keep our communities safe.”

Other criminal justice and public safety bills signed into law include:

  • SB 60 addresses issues related to stolen materials like catalytic converters and makes it harder for thieves to sell these illegally possessed goods.

  • SB 155 revises and updates language regarding penalties imposed on individuals that harm a public safety animal or search and rescue animal.

  • SB 215 allows law enforcement officers to request that their personally identifiable information be removed from local, publicly available property records.

  • HB 139 eliminates the requirement that prosecutors disclose the home addresses and other personal information of nonsworn employees of law enforcement agencies who are called to testify at criminal trials.

  • HB 227 increases penalties for those who illegally damage critical infrastructure.

  • HB 268 creates a grant program for local law enforcement agencies and task forces for the prevention, reduction, investigation, and prosecution of motor vehicle crimes. It also establishes the Georgia Motor Crime Prevention Advisory Board.

  • HB 373 designates Sept. 11 as First Responders Appreciation Day.

Some other approved measures include boosting support for mental health services and resources for veterans, as well as increasing access to small businesses to provide services to the government through state contracts.

On Monday, Kemp signed HB 128, which received bipartisan support from lawmakers in the General Assembly, focusing on cutting red tape for businesses whose owners are women, veterans or minorities. And another bill, HB 414, establishes a mental health support program grant for veterans and their families.

In addition, Kemp signed

  • SB 21 makes changes to the Georgia Veterans Service Foundation to better mobilize its resources for the benefit of those it serves.

  • HB 175 removes requirements to the state’s disabled veterans and creates a specialty license plate for Retired Georgia National Guard and Retired Active Duty Reserve members.

  • SB 213 enables property owners to replace an existing manufactured home with a newly built manufactured home without running into bureaucratic restrictions.

  • HB 230 provides for a voter’s referendum to decide on implementing a qualified consolidated government special purpose local option sales tax to support the financing of a proposed renovation project to the James Brown Arena in downtown Augusta.

What’s Next

Kemp has a 40-day window after the close of the legislative session (known as Sine Die) to either sign or veto legislation that has made it through the Legislature. Bills that did pass that are not signed or vetoed by the governor become law automatically. Bills still awaiting a vote in the House or Senate could have a second chance at life when the Legislature returns Jan. 8, 2024.

Issac Morgan is State Affairs newsletter editor. State Affairs chief of staff Joy Walstrum contributed to this report.

Have any suggestions or tips on interviews or stories in Georgia? Contact Issac Morgan on Twitter @issacmorgan12 or at [email protected].


Header image: Gov. Brian Kemp, seated next to first lady Marty Kemp and flanked by state and city leaders, gathered in Augusta for the bill signing ceremony for HB 128, which focuses on cutting red tape for businesses whose owners are women, veterans or minorities. (Credit: Office of the Governor)