The Georgia Senate passed two bills Thursday aimed at protecting victims of human trafficking, advancing a key plank of Gov. Brian Kemp’s legislative agenda.
One bill sponsored by state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, would allow human-trafficking victims to sue their traffickers in civil court for monetary damages.
The other bill, also sponsored by Dixon, would shield human-trafficking victims from public scrutiny if they seek to legally change their names by keeping name-change petitions under seal.
Dixon, a freshman who is one of the governor’s floor leaders in the Senate, said the governor-backed bills aim to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable community members.
“This is an issue that’s crucial to my county and yours ... and will help victims of human trafficking,” Dixon said.
Both bills passed unanimously and now head to the House for more voting. Kemp will likely sign them into law should they pass the General Assembly.
The governor has made fighting human trafficking a priority since taking office in 2019, charging the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to crack down harder on traffickers through a multi-agency task force. He also tasked his wife, First Lady Marty Kemp, to lead the trafficking-focused GRACE Commission.
Dixon’s bills follow legislation passed last year that toughened penalties for commercial drivers with human-trafficking criminal convictions and allowed victims to clear their court records of any offenses stemming from activities while they were being trafficked.
Kemp’s agenda this year also includes legislation requiring anyone who seeks a new or renewed commercial driver’s license in Georgia to complete a human-trafficking awareness course.
State officials created a new hotline last September for Georgians to alert law enforcement officers of sexual or labor exploitation and to receive help for victims. Thousands of state government employees have also taken a trafficking-awareness course during the past year on how to spot abuse.
The number for the state’s human-trafficking hotline is 1-866-ENDHTGA.