Governor Brian Kemp on Friday signed House Bill 286, which will prohibit local governments from defunding the police in the state of Georgia.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep.
Houston Gaines (R-Athens), was signed into law just outside of Athens - a city which, alongside Atlanta, has recently considered proposals to slash local police budgets
Rep. Gaines said, "Georgia is now one of the only states in the nation with a law explicitly protecting law enforcement officers from being defunded."
Click HERE to watch the full bill signing ceremony, or read Rep. Gaines' full remarks below:
Thank you, Governor. I’m honored to be here and appreciate Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith for having us. It’s awesome to see so many men and women in law enforcement here this afternoon. And, I want to say thank you for what you do - keeping our communities safe.
Here in Georgia, we back the blue. And that’s why we’re here today - to say loud and clear that we support law enforcement, and that we’re going to keep families in our state safe.
I want to thank the many folks who worked together to make this bill a reality. On the House side, I see members here today who helped us move this bill through the process. And I want to thank in particular, Senator Randy Robertson who carried this piece of legislation in the Senate. As a law enforcement veteran, Randy understands why this legislation is so important.
I also see folks from the Police Benevolent Association and want to thank them for their support from Day 1 - and I know we have folks with the Sheriffs’ Association and Police Chiefs Association, as well. Thank you for all you do.
Over the last year, we’ve seen radial calls to defund the police in cities across the nation. In cities like Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Portland - where local governments have slashed police budgets, crime has skyrocketed. Now those cities are working to restore that funding, and I’m glad to see them come to their senses - but it’s too late for the crimes that have been committed, the damage that has been done to those communities, and the lives lost.
Georgia, too, has seen calls to defund the police. Over the last several months, Atlanta and Athens have considered proposals to slash police funding. In Atlanta, an effort to cut $73 million from the police budget only failed by one vote on the city council. Last year in Athens - just down the road in my hometown, there was a proposal by county commissioners to cut 50% of the police budget.
And that’s why I brought this bill forward. When the proposal to cut 50% was released, I heard from folks across the political spectrum concerned - I knew we had to do something. Listen, I support local control - but when you have local governments that are out of control, I knew we had to act.
While we’re fortunate these proposals didn’t pass the first time around, we can’t let it happen. Take a look at Atlanta right now - murders are up 60% and shootings are up 51% year to date.
Now is the time to invest in law enforcement. We need to increase the pay of our police officers, add money in the budget for more resources, and stand by those who keep our communities safe. Because the reality is: defunding the police is a radical movement that will endanger our families and our law enforcement officers alike.
House Bill 286 will protect families across the state. Public safety is not a partisan issue - it’s one we can all agree on, and that’s why this legislation is so critical.
Today, we’re making it clear that we won’t allow the ‘defund the police’ movement to take a foothold in Georgia. We’re going to protect public safety in Georgia.
I’m extremely proud of this bill, and I’m grateful for you all being here today - especially our law enforcement officers.