Those who attended the annual Georgia Chamber Congressional Luncheon in the summer and heard Gov. Brian Kemp talk about tort reform as one of his top priorities for the year, may have been caught a little by surprise Wednesday morning at the Chamber’s annual Eggs and Issues event. While Kemp still talked about tort reform, the Governor spoke more about rewriting litigation rules in a multi-year effort as opposed to a sweeping reform – taking the first step this year.

“For too long, business owners and individuals alike have struggled under the weight of sky-high insurance costs. The cost to do business in our state should not be so high it stalls job creation and impedes growth because of frivolous lawsuits that drive up insurance premiums,” said Kemp. “In Georgia, we have some of the highest premiums in the country. We can and should do something about that.

“I look forward to working with the leadership and members of both chambers of the General Assembly on meaningful reforms that will stabilize costs for everyday Georgians, incentivize job creators to bring more opportunity to all parts of our state, and ensure Georgia is the best place to start, grow, and operate a business.”

According to Kemp, he and his team have been working the past several months, meeting with representatives from a full range of industries to learn more about their challenges.

“Following those extensive conversations, my team and I have determined this issue deserves consideration beyond one session. We will begin by taking the first step this year,” Kemp said. “Like in every major undertaking our state has tackled in the past, we will work on a Georgia-specific solution; one designed to make meaningful reforms in this area over the next several years. I look forward to introducing legislation this year that will reflect my priorities to stabilize the market for insurers, stabilize premiums for Georgia’s families, and level the playing field in our courtrooms so we can continue to create even more quality, good-paying jobs.”

James Magazine Online heard comments throughout the morning that the change took place because state leaders and business leaders couldn’t agree on a comprehensive package.

Chris Clark, President and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce spoke about the Chamber’s commitment to tort reform.

“Make no mistake, the business community is unified in addressing this issue,” said Clark. “In fact, 64 percent of Georgians in our last poll said that we need to address this issue. What does this look like, just ask Commissioner John King, Commissioner Tyler Harper, every hospital, every farmer, every small business in Georgia is worried about being harassed with frivolous lawsuits being targeted. We believe our judicial system in Georgia should be about justice and not jackpots. Make no mistakes about it, we want to support premise liability.”

Legal reform is one of several Chamber priorities for the 2024 legislative session. Another is employment law and preserving Georgia’s employment-at-will and the state’s right-to-work status. Others are workforce and transportation. Under workforce, the Chamber is supporting efforts to address current workforce housing access and affordability challenges to ensure communities across the state can attract and retain talent.

Kemp also addressed workforce housing, proposing an additional $50 million in the Amended 2024 budget and $6 million dollars in base funding for the Fiscal Year 2025 budget that will go to the Workforce Housing Fund he started last year with an initial investment of $35.7 million.

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