ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia’s governor is pushing for two changes to state law to continue helping victims of human trafficking.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Governor Brian Kemp said he supported a bill that would make it easier for victims to change their name and another bill that would allow victims or state officials to file civil lawsuits for monetary damages to human traffickers.
Kemp said he will also seek a rule change that requires anyone who acquires or renews a commercial driver’s license to take an anti-trafficking course.
The governor and his wife Marty Kemp made a number of changes to state law to address the issue. Previous steps include opening a shelter for trafficked youth, setting up a Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigative unit to investigate crimes, and setting up a statewide hotline, 1-866-ENDHTGA.
The name change law would allow victims to change their names without advertising the measure in the local newspaper, as is now required, and they could seal their petitions to the judges. Similar exemptions already exist for victims of domestic violence.
The bill would allow a victim to sue anyone who knowingly benefited from human trafficking up to 10 years after the action or up to 10 years after a victim’s 18th birthday. The attorney general could also bring such a lawsuit. All lawsuits would be frozen until criminal proceedings are initiated. Kemp said the measure reflected an existing federal law.
Both bills are to be introduced in the coming days.
“We will continue to look for new ways to help and make a difference every day,” said Marty Kemp. “And I promise you, we will not rest until every victim is saved and every human trafficker is behind bars.”
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