Kemp signs bills on education, health care, taxes

Gov. Brian Kemp — accompanied by first lady Marty Kemp, lawmakers and other state officials — signed several bills into law at the Georgia Capitol on April 24, 2024. (Credit: Georgia House)

Gov. Brian Kemp signed a slew of bills over the past week or so, including the private school voucher bill long sought by Republicans and a bill that will ease regulations over the construction and expansion of medical facilities in rural areas.

His bill-signing events were clustered into themes: education, health care, military members, human trafficking and Georgia’s coastal communities. 


Among the education-related bills Kemp signed was Senate Bill 233, also known as the Georgia Promise Scholarship Act, which provides the families of Georgia students enrolled in underperforming school districts with $6,500 scholarships that can be used toward private school or homeschooling expenses, including tuition, fees, textbooks and tutoring. 

“Georgia is affording greater choice to families as to how and where they receive their education, while also continuing our efforts to strengthen public schools, support teachers, and secure our classrooms,” Kemp said, and thanked leadership in the House and Senate for prioritizing passage of the bill, which had failed in a close vote in 2023. 

Democrats and many public education advocates who opposed the bill argued it will drain resources from public schools and primarily benefit students from wealthy families. 

Kemp also signed Senate Bill 351, sponsored by nine Republican senators, which will require social media companies, as of July 1, 2025, to verify their users are at least 16 years old unless they receive approval from a parent. 

House Bill 409, sponsored by Rep. Lauren Daniel, R-Locust Grove, directs school systems to consider not having bus stops where a student would have to cross a roadway with a speed limit of 40 mph or greater. The bill also increases the penalty for passing a stopped school bus to $1,000 from $250. 

Kemp noted that Ashley Pierce, the mother of Addy Pierce, an 8-year-old who was fatally struck by a motorist as she boarded her school bus, “passionately advocated for and was instrumental in the passage of this legislation.”

Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, states that no school visitor or personnel can be prohibited from possessing an opioid reversal drug such as Narcan and directs schools to maintain a supply. It also allows opioid antagonists to be sold in vending machines and directs certain government buildings to maintain a supply of at least three doses.

Senate Bill 464, also sponsored by Dixon, creates the School Supplies for Teachers Program to financially and technically support teachers purchasing school supplies online. It also creates an executive committee of five voting members within the Georgia Council on Literacy and limits the number of approved literacy screeners to five, one of whom must be available to schools for free.

Health care

The governor chose his hometown of Athens as the venue to sign several bills aimed at improving health care in rural and underserved communities. 

Among them was House Bill 1339, sponsored by Rep. Butch Parrish, R-Swainsboro, which revises the Certificate of Need process by which the state determines if and how new medical facilities can be built or expanded. The bill provides for several new exemptions, including psychiatric or substance abuse inpatient programs, basic perinatal services in rural counties, birthing centers and new general acute hospitals in rural counties. It also raises the total limit on tax credits for donations to rural hospital organizations to $100 million from $75 million.

Senate Bill 480, sponsored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, establishes student loan repayments for mental health and substance use professionals serving underserved youth in the state or in unserved geographic areas disproportionately impacted by social determinants of health.

House Bill 872, sponsored by Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, expands cancelable loans for certain health care professionals to dental students who agree to practice in rural areas. 

Senate Bill 293, sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, reorganizes county boards of public health and opens the qualifications for the CEO of each county board of health to include either licensed physicians or people with a master’s degree in public health or a related field.

Military members and veterans

Kemp on Wednesday focused on bills to improve military recruitment and provide more work opportunities for veterans and military family members. 

House Bill 880, sponsored by Rep. Bethany Ballard, R-Warner Robins, allows spouses of military service members to work under a license they hold in good standing in another state while under the supervision of an existing Georgia medical facility or provider. 

Senate Bill 449, sponsored by Sen. Larry Walker, allows military medical personnel to practice for 12 months while a license application is pending, including working as a certified nursing aide, certified emergency medical technician, paramedic or licensed practical nurse. The bill also creates a new advanced practice registered nurse license and makes it a misdemeanor to practice advanced nursing without a license.

Human trafficking

The governor on Wednesday was accompanied by first lady Marty Kemp and other members of the GRACE Commission for the signing of an anti-human trafficking package. It includes Senate Bill 370, which adds certain businesses to the list of organizations that must post human trafficking notices, including convenience stores, body art studios, businesses that employ licensed massage therapists and manufacturing facilities. 

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, the bill also allows the Georgia Board of Massage Therapy to initiate inspections of massage therapy businesses and educational programs without notice and requires massage therapy board members to complete yearly human trafficking awareness training.

House Bill 993, sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, creates the felony offense of grooming of a minor and creates new penalties for offenses relating to visual mediums depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. 

House Bill 1201, sponsored by Rep. Houston Gaines, R-Athens, allows human trafficking survivors who received first offender or conditional discharge status to vacate that status for certain crimes, as long as the crime was a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.

Coastal communities

Earlier today in Brunswick, Kemp signed legislation impacting Georgia coastal communities, including House Bill 244, which amends the laws around how wild game can be hunted and how seafood dealers operate, and House Bill 1341, which designates white shrimp as the state’s official crustacean. 


Earlier this month Kemp signed several bills related to taxation, including House Bill 1015, sponsored by Rep. Lauren McDonald, R-Cumming, which lowers the state income tax for tax year 2024 to 5.39%, accelerating a multiyear drop in state income taxes that started at 5.75% in 2023 and will continue through 2029.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget estimates the tax cut acceleration will save Georgia taxpayers approximately $1.1 billion in calendar year 2024 and about $3 billion over the next 10 years.

Kemp also signed House Bill 1021, sponsored by Rep. Lauren Daniel, R-Locust Grove, which increases the state’s income tax dependent exemption to $4,000 from $3,000. 

House Bill 581, sponsored by Reps. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, and Clint Crowe, R-Jackson, enables a constitutional amendment (House Resolution 1022) to let voters decide whether counties can provide a statewide homestead valuation freeze, which limits the increase in property values to the inflation rate. 
The governor has until May 7 to sign or veto bills passed during the legislative session that ended on March 28. Those he takes no action on will automatically become law.

Legislation signed by Kemp is posted on the governor’s website.

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Have questions, comments or tips on education in Georgia? Contact Jill Jordan Sieder on X @journalistajill or at [email protected].