First lady Marty Kemp announced a new initiative Tuesday aimed at combating human trafficking in the state.
Speaking in the governor’s office, Kemp announced the creation of the Georgians for Refuge, Action, Compassion and Education, or GRACE Commission. The commission will be chaired by the first lady along with GBI Director Vic Reynolds and Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones.
Kemp spoke about her time traveling the state on the campaign trail and hearing about Georgians’ concerns.
“One of the issues that struck closest to home for us was the rate of human trafficking in Georgia,” said Kemp. “At stops across the state, moms would tell me about their concerns about their children's safety. They were truly worried that they could be in harm's way. And I heard this from people of all walks of life.”
In 2017, there were 276 human trafficking cases reported in Georgia, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. Nineteen percent of these cases involved minors.
Last week, Gov. Brian Kemp and Sen. Brian Strickland (R-McDonough) introduced S.B. 158, the Anti-Human Trafficking Protective Response Act. The bill increases penalties for related sexual offenses, expands on laws that ban servitude and gives the Division of Family and Children Services authority to care for children who are victims of human trafficking.
The first lady’s announcement today added another element to the state’s efforts to combat the sex trafficking industry.
“The GRACE commission will be comprised of public officials, law enforcement, for-profit and non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions and subject matter experts to tackle human trafficking, serve justice for victims, hold bad actors accountable and end human trafficking,” Kemp said during the press conference.
Gov. Kemp also spoke at the press conference and noted that the Super Bowl brought more attention to the issue for Georgia, but that the momentum cannot be lost now that the game is over.
“This is something the legislature has been working on for years methodically. But there's still more to do,” said Gov. Kemp. “That's one reason we felt like this was a good time to roll this commission out and get to work.”
The GRACE Commission’s membership is expected to be announced in the next several weeks.