Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Tuesday a bill that increases the penalties for business owners who fail to post required notices about resources for human trafficking victims.

Kemp was joined by his wife, Marty Kemp, who has used her time as first lady to work on stopping human trafficking in Georgia and assisting victims of the crime.

The new law increases the penalty for business owners who fail to post notices that explain how victims of human trafficking can reach national and state hotlines to get help.

“This common-sense measure imposes minimum fines for failing to post required notices by public entrances, where they will be easily seen by the public, and in restrooms where victims of trafficking may be able to see the notice while away from their trafficker,” Marty Kemp said at a bill signing ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion.

“It may not sound like much, but the reality is this simple step could save lives if the notice reaches the right person. This is especially critical in busy areas where traffickers often hide in plain sight.”

Business owners who fail to post the notices in both English and Spanish can be fined $500 to $1,000 for a first conviction and from $1,000 to $5,000 for a second conviction. The law allows business owners up to 30 days to post the notices after being notified by law enforcement that they are in violation of the law.

Georgia law requires the notices to be posted in certain types of businesses, including truck stops, bars, adult entertainment businesses, hospitals, airports, rail and bus stations, hotels, and government buildings.

State Sen. Mike Hodges, R-Brunswick, sponsored the bill and it was carried in the House of Representatives by Rep. Will Wade, R-Dawsonville. Both served as floor leaders for Kemp during the 2023 legislative session and attended the bill signing along with other GOP legislators.

The measure passed with only one “no” vote in the state Senate and unanimously in the House of Representatives.

The bill signing ceremony was preceded by a meeting of the GRACE Commission, which is chaired by Marty Kemp. The commission is made up of government and business leaders as well as representatives of non-profit and faith groups that work to end human trafficking and help victims of the crime.

Attorney General Chris Carr is a member of the commission and has made fighting human trafficking a priority. His office assisted 116 victims, led or assisted 33 investigations, and secured six convictions in 2022, Carr said during the meeting.

Rebecca Grapevine writes for Capitol Beat News Service


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