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ICYMI: Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp Continue Work to Build a Safer, Stronger Georgia

GEORGIA, April 2 - Atlanta, GA – In case you missed it, Governor Brian P. Kemp is making good on promises to provide relief for hardworking Georgians and build a safer, stronger Georgia.

On March 18th, Governor Kemp signed legislation to temporarily halt the state gas tax through the end of May, and Georgians are now seeing relief at the pump.

Governor Kemp joined the Macon Touchdown Club on March 21st to connect with Georgia coaches and student-athletes and special guest, University of Georgia Football Coach Kirby Smart.

On March 22nd, Governor Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, and their daughters celebrated National Agriculture Day. The Kemp family appreciates farm families and agribusiness professionals who contribute to the industry and keep Georgia Grown goods flowing to markets in the Peach State and around the world.

Later that afternoon, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp visited Cinelease Studios for their Georgia expansion.

Also that day, Governor Kemp's proposal to allow retired teachers to return to the classroom in high-need areas was approved by Georgia lawmakers. The measure will help equip schools with experienced professionals where needed.

On March 23rd, Governor Kemp signed HB1302 into law, providing a tax refund to all eligible Georgia taxpayers. When the government takes in more than it needs, Governor Kemp believes those dollars should be returned to the taxpayer, because that’s their money - not the government’s.

The same day, WalletHub released a study ranking states with the best and worst taxpayer return on investment (ROI). Out of all 50 states, Georgia placed in the top five for best taxpayer ROI due to its high quality services in education, healthcare, public safety, and more. Notably, Georgia also had the second best roads and bridges in the nation.

On March 24th, Governor Kemp joined with state legislators to celebrate the newly created Georgia-Israel Caucus. The bipartisan caucus will strengthen Georgia relations with Israel and will further promote their economic and diplomatic partnership.

Later that day, Governor Kemp celebrated Georgia's strong economic growth by recognizing an all-time high number of Georgians employed and jobs available.

On March 25th, Governor Kemp, First Lady Marty Kemp, and their daughter, Lucy, visited Savannah to announce the completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The project, more than 20 years in the making, will allow Georgia exports to reach international markets quicker and increase the state's prominence in global commerce.

n March 28th, First Lady Marty Kemp's proposal to fight Human Trafficking and crack down on buyers and traffickers received unanimous, final passage in the Georgia State Senate.

Governor Kemp also joined Neil Cavuto on March 28th to discuss how he's working to curb inflation and help ease the burden consumers are feeling at the gas pump.

On March 29th, Governor Kemp signed the Unmask Georgia Students Act. The new law acts as a crucial step in the state's full return to normalcy as COVID-19 cases continue to decline across Georgia. The law will allow parents to opt-out of mask mandates, empowering them to decide what is best for their child's health and safety.

On March 30th, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp joined with state and local agencies to praise the success of the Multi-Agency Crime Suppression Unit in its first year.

Governor Kemp continues to double down on public safety efforts, and he was also encouraged this week that the Georgia General Assembly voted to provide authority for the Office of the Attorney General's Gang Prosecution Unit - which he allocated funds for in his FY23 budget.

Also on March 30th, Georgia filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the federal government's unconstitutional mask mandate for public transportation and transportation hubs.

On March 31st, Governor Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp hosted Garrett Geros - Georgia's own Paralympics Snowboard Cross Silver Medalist - when he visited the Georgia State Capitol.

On April 1st, Governor Kemp penned a letter to President Biden demanding a detailed, actionable plan to stop mass illegal crossings and human and drug trafficking at our nation’s southern border. You can read that letter here.

Also on April 1st, Governor Kemp celebrated the passage of the Georgia Constitutional Carry Act of 2021. Governor Kemp intends to sign the measure into law in the coming days.

Gov. Kemp Provides Update on Crime Suppression Unit Progress After 1 Year

11 Alive: Results announced after $5 million, yearlong Atlanta anti-crime effort

Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that hundreds of arrests had been made and hundreds more stolen weapons and vehicles recovered out of a $5 million, yearlong anti-crime initiative announced last year.

Releasing the results of the initiative - a multi-agency "crime suppression unit" that targeted the metro Atlanta area - Kemp said that there had been 26 murder arrests, 451 arrests of wanted suspects, 342 stolen weapons secured and 312 stolen vehicles recovered.

"As I said shortly after this unit began this good fight, we will use every resource at our disposal to rid our communities of crime and keep Georgia families safe," Kemp said.

Governor, heads of metro law enforcement agencies say crime suppression unit is working

“We will use every resource at our disposal to rid our communities of crime and keep Georgia families safe,” Kemp said.

Since April 2021, Kemp says the unit made 23,000 vehicle stops, handed out 16,000 citations, made 588 DUI arrests and impounded 1,300 vehicles.

He also says they nabbed 451 wanted people -- including 26 murder suspects. Kemp said the unit also recovered 342 stolen weapons and 312 stolen cars.

“I’ve never seen an operation work more seamlessly than this one,” said GBI director Vic Reynolds.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A year later, Kemp touts success of state’s Crime Suppression Unit

Speaking at Liberty Plaza outside the State Capitol, Kemp touted the work of the multi-agency unit he created in April 2021 to help reduce rising crime rates and curb street racing across the metro area.

Flanked by GBI Director Vic Reynolds, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, Fulton County Sheriff Patrick Labat and the heads of several state agencies, Kemp praised those involved for “taking the fight to criminals.” He also touted the unit as an example of what can happen when law enforcement agencies combine resources and work together.

All on Georgia: Governor Kemp and Public Safety Leaders Provide Update on Success of Crime Suppression Unit

Georgia Department of Public Safety Colonel Chris Wright also shared the following comments:

"It was Governor Kemp who saw citizen’s lives in danger and their livelihoods at risk due to the reckless and criminal behavior plaguing the City of Atlanta. It was his vision to begin crime suppression operations to help combat crime; and his vision to create a full-time crime suppression unit. Proactive policing and high visibility patrols result in crime reduction and improve the quality of life for our citizens. We share the governor’s vision of reducing crime and making Georgia communities safer."

Georgians Experience Relief at the Pump

WTVM 9: Ga. Governor Brian Kemp signs gas tax suspension bill

Governor Brian Kemp signed the bill that will suspend the state’s gas tax earlier today. Georgians could save around 30 cents per gallon and 33 cents per gallon for diesel.

House Bill 304 promises to bring relief at the gas pumps. The bill will temporarily suspend the state’s gas tax and provide a savings of about 29 cents per gallon.

Fox 5: Georgia gas prices begin to fall over demand drop worries, gas tax suspension

Georgians are waking up to lower gas prices Monday morning, which have been dropping and could see an even higher decrease after Gov. Brian Kemp suspended the state's gas tax.

The dropping prices come days after Kemp signed a bill suspending the state gas tax, a move expected to bring more relief to Georgia drivers.

It's a move that both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers got behind, with the bill passing unanimously at the state Capitol.

WDEF 12: Georgia residents feeling slight relief at gas stations

Georgia’s 29-cent gas tax is currently null and void to help Georgians save a little more cash at the pump.

Georgia resident Matthew Brown commutes 30 minutes to work daily and was grateful for Gov. Brian Kemp’s actions.

Gift Egbe, a Chattanooga-based construction worker, supports Gov. Kemp’s decision to cut the state’s tax on gasoline.

Georgia resident Brandon Knapp also believes that Gov. Kemp’s approach to help cut back on gas prices should be adopted by other states whose families are hurting.

“It’s helped me a lot,” Knapp said. “The price just kept going up. I was thinking it was just going to keep going. To see it start coming down has just kind of been nice. You know, if it’s not hurting anything else, then I think it’s a good idea.”

Gov. Kemp Returns Money to the Pockets of Hardworking Georgians

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Senate gives final passage to $1.1 billion income tax refund

Under House Bill 1302, which passed 47-4, single Georgians would be able to receive a $250 refund when they file their taxes, joint filers $500. The refunds would go to those who filed returns for the tax years 2020 and 2021 and the money would be available in six to eight weeks.

Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, one of the governor’s floor leaders, told colleagues Wednesday that the refund backed up Kemp’s belief that “when government takes in more money than it needs, the surplus funds should go back to taxpayers. They know best how to spend their hard-earned money.”

WTVM 9: $1.1 billion checks in refund checks heading to Georgia taxpayers

Kemp attributed the surplus of more than a billion dollars to the state’s decisions during the pandemic, a strong economy and conservative budgeting by state lawmakers.

“It’s one-time money. I think it’s best when we have more than we need to send it back to the people that sent it to us, the taxpayers. That’s what we’re doing with over a billion dollars of refunds that will be in Georgians’ bank accounts in a matter of weeks. It’s what also allowed us to do the two-month moratorium on collecting gas tax at the pump,” explained Kemp.

Fox 5: Georgia income tax refunds: Gov. Brian Kemp signs bill amid budget surplus

Kemp on Wednesday signed the $1.1 billion refund plan into law.

The Department of Revenue said single filers receive a $250 refund, single adults with dependents receive a $375 refund and married couples receive $500.

Gov. Kemp Joins State and Local Authorities to Celebrate Completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion

WGXA: Georgia governor, other agencies mark completion of Savannah Harbor deepening

This river deepening project is two decades in the making, and it will allow larger vessels to pass through Savannah's port. From The Garden City Port to Fort Pulaski, The Savannah River is 47 ft deep- a five-foot increase that Griff Lynch, director of The Georgia Ports Authority, said will facilitate more efficient trade in Georgia. Kemp said this comes on the heels of a record-breaking year for state exports.

Despite the global supply chain interruptions, Georgia exported a record $42 billion dollars this year. According to Kemp, 85 percent of Georgia's exports are produced by small businesses. Colonel Joseph Geary with the U.S. Corps of Army Engineers said this $1 billion investment will pay off with a $7.70 return on investment for each dollar spent.

Savannah Morning News: After 20-plus years, Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is complete, more growth planned

"A deeper channel means more than just efficient passage for the largest vessels calling on the U.S. East Coast. It means continued opportunity, job growth and prosperity for the people of our state," said Griff Lynch, executive director of the GPA.

"That's important to our exporters, because it means Georgia-grown and manufactured goods reach international markets faster," said Joel Wooten, GPA board chairman. "The harbor deepening directly complements our overall mission to support growth through global commerce."

"The ports are a major reason why our FY2022 numbers for total jobs created and dollars invested are on track to outpace all of last year's numbers which, by the way, was a record year," said Kemp. "Businesses know that when they operate in Georgia, their goods will reach markets around the world even during unprecedented challenges."

WJCL 22: 'An exciting day for Georgia': 20+ years later, the Savannah Harbor Deepening project is complete

"To say today has been a long time coming is an understatement," Gov. Brian Kemp said.

Wooten said, "The deeper water means that ships can carry up to an additional 1,000 containers." This is good news for Georgia exporters, 85% of which, according to Gov. Kemp, are small businesses.

"It will mean greater speed and greater efficiency getting Georgia grown and Georgia manufactured goods to global markets," Wooten said.

Gov. Kemp Signs Unmask Georgia Students Act

11 Alive: 'Unmask Georgia Students Act' passes Georgia General Assembly

Senate Bill 514 has passed the Georgia House, advancing the legislation out of the state's general assembly and to Gov. Brain Kemp's desk. The bill would allow parents to exclude their children from mask mandates in public schools.

“Parents are the best decision-makers when it comes to the health and education of their children,” Dixon said previously to the Senate Education and Youth Committee. “This legislation ensures that those rights are not infringed upon by misguided policies.”

Capitol Beat: General Assembly passes ban on mask mandates for Georgia students

Georgia school officials will not be allowed to require a student to wear a mask if his or her parents object under legislation that gained final passage in the state House of Representatives Friday.

The bill, which cleared the Republican-controlled chamber 93-52 along party lines, was introduced on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp, who has fought against mask mandates imposed by local governments and school systems since the coronavirus pandemic struck Georgia two years ago.

CBS 46: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signs Unmask Georgia Students Act

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Unmask Georgia Students Act during a ceremony Tuesday.

“We’re taking another important step to make sure our students are not the victims of those who continue to play pandemic politics. The Unmask Georgia Students Act guarantees the rights of parents to make healthcare decisions in the best interest of their children,” said Kemp.

The law will be in effect for the next five years but can be suspended in the event of a public emergency.

11 Alive: Gov. Kemp signs bill to let Georgia parents reject kids' masks in schools

Gov. Brian Kemp has officially signed off on a bill which would let parents opt their children out of public school mask mandates.

“Parents are the best decision makers when it comes to the health and education of their children,” said Rep. Lauren McDonald III, a Cumming Republican who presented the bill. “This legislation ensures that those rights are not infringed by misguided policies.”

“Nothing in this bill prohibits parents from sending their children to school in a mask that actually works,” said Rep. Mark Newton, an Augusta Republican and emergency room physician.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Kemp signs bill letting parents opt kids out of school mask mandates

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed legislation that allows parents who don’t want their children wearing masks to opt out of any school district mandates.

“This will ensure that parents have the final say when it comes to the health and well-being of their child,” Kemp said before signing the bill. “It is a common sense measure that puts parents in charge — not the government.”

WJCL 22: Gov. Kemp signs Unmask Georgia Students Act, allowing parents to opt kids out of school mask mandate

The Republican Kemp on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 514, which would let parents opt their children out of school mask mandates for the next five years.

Proclaiming that “it’s time for a complete return to normalcy for Georgia students” as he touted his record of issuing few restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Kemp said parents should be able to make key decisions for their own child’s learning.

Patch: Gov. Brian Kemp signs 'Unmask Georgia Students Act' into law

Under the law, parents will not be required to provide a reason or any certification of their child's health or education status to be exempt from masking.

Students who choose not to wear face masks at school cannot face disciplinary or academic consequences, according to the law.

Gov. Kemp Supports First-Ever State Gang Prosecution Unit in AG Office

All on Georgia: Gang Prosecution Legislation Gets Final Passage in Georgia

Attorney General Chris Carr says he commends the final passage of HB 1134, legislation that provides the Office of the Attorney General with concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute criminal gang activity statewide. This legislation is reinforced by Governor Brian Kemp’s budget proposal to create the state’s first-ever Gang Prosecution Unit in the Attorney General’s Office.

“The passage of HB 1134 will give us even more momentum in the ongoing fight against criminal street gangs,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “I commend Chairman Chuck Efstration for introducing this important bill and thank all who voted ‘yay’ in support of public safety. I will gladly sign this bill into law, and I also have the utmost faith in the Office of the Attorney General to utilize this new law and the funding set aside in our budget to build a Gang Prosecution Unit that works with state and local law enforcement partners to root out gang activity in the Peach State and protect Georgians.”

Associated Press: Georgia Senate passes bill to boost gang prosecutions

Under the bill, a new unit within the attorney general’s office would have concurrent authority with local prosecutors to bring gang cases. The governor’s budget funds the unit.

Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Macon, said Monday that local prosecutors have trouble going after gang operations that go beyond their jurisdictions. The attorney general’s office would also pursue gang activity in prisons, he said.

“No one’s authority is being infringed upon, but we’re bringing added resources where they’re needed,” Kennedy said.