FILE - GA Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp plan to make an announcement Monday about the state’s human trafficking initiative, one of his many priorities for the upcoming legislative session.

Kemp will give his annual state of the state address next week, but he has already made his priorities known.

The governor plans to focus this year on human trafficking, gang violence, tougher penalties for violent offenders, adoption reform, rural health care access and education funding.

His top priority, he said, is public safety. 

Georgia’s first family will be joined Monday at the state capitol by Attorney General Chris Carr and Georgia's special human trafficking commission to discuss their work to reduce human trafficking in the state. 

The governor said that Georgia law does not do enough to rehabilitate victims. With help from the federal government, victims may find more relief.

The U.S. Department of Justice in November 2019 awarded Georgia $4.3 million to help human trafficking survivors and to investigate and prosecute human traffickers.

With the safety of Georgians in mind, Kemp also said he wants to “dismantle street gangs and drug cartels.”

Gang membership in Georgia has reached a reported 71,000, according to GBI Director Vic Reynolds. The governor wants lawmakers to impose stricter anti-gang laws and enforcement.

Last January, Kemp announced the establishment of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation gang task force, fueled by $500,000.

Reynolds said he has hired the “top experts in anti-gang laws” at the bureau. Kemp wants to ensure that law enforcement gets more backing to tackle the problem.

“Funding additional resources for the Gang Task Force and then also working on putting some more teeth into the statutes, to be able to go after and not only arrest these folks and indict them but to get them prosecuted and get them locked up and off the streets,” Kemp told the Marietta Daily Journal.

Also on Kemp’s agenda is an increase in education funding. 

The legislature allocated a total of $10.6 billion for education for the 2020 fiscal year. That is $700 million more than the previous fiscal year. 

Kemp hopes with cuts to other state spending, more funds could be made available to education.

In August, Kemp ordered state agencies to slash their budgets in 2020 by 4 percent and 6 percent in 2021. 

Kemp also wants to use the savings to support small businesses, he said. 

The governor is scheduled to give his state of the state address on Jan. 16.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.