Kemp issues $1,000 bonus for state employees

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childcare

ATLANTA, Ga. – On February 10, Governor Brian Kemp announced plans to pay nearly 60,000 state employees a one-time bonus of $1,000.

Speaker David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge), flanked by Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan (R) and other lawmakers, said that the proposal was actually an extension to Kemp’s plan outlined in the State of the State speech last month.

“We wanted to extend that $1,000 bonus beyond our teachers to many of our frontline state employees who have also served our citizens through the worst days of this pandemic,” said Ralston.

Kemp reiterated that this bonus couldn’t come at a better time for many families that struggled through the pandemic.

Georgia State Capitol

“Our state employees have worked incredibly hard despite a global pandemic.  They have been going above and beyond the call of duty to deliver essential services to our most vulnerable, keeping our businesses open and delivering financial assistance to those who quite honestly many days were losing hope,” said Kemp.  “Like so many hardworking Georgians, they juggled jobs and school and the new normal for their kids and their families like we all have and to those of [you] here today we just simply cannot thank you enough.”

Much of the flexibility that allows Georgia to have an opportunity to propose legislation like this comes from the federal CARES Act passed by Congress and a 6.1% increase in state revenue compared to this time last year.

In total, $59 million will be set aside to cover the bonuses.

Not all state employees will be eligible. Those making over $80,000 a year or who work for the Board of Regents may not see these bonuses.

State law still requires that both the House and Senate have to agree on the proposed amendment before it moves to the Governor’s desk.

King Keeps Lawmakers in Hot Seat Over Immigration

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Immigration proponent D.A. King

ELLIJAY, Ga – Immigration enforcement proponent D.A. King raised concerns about the future of federal program 287(g) and Governor Brian Kemp’s dedication to ending illegal immigration in Georgia.

King started by highlighting his better part of two decades focused on the issues of illegal immigration. What’s more, he serves as President and Founder of the Dustin Inman Society, a 501(c)(4). This nonprofit was formed in 2005 in honor of Dustin Inman who died after Gonzalo Harrell-Gonzalez, a Mexican national rear-ended the vehicle of Billy and Kathy Inman while stopped at a traffic light in Ellijay. Harrell-Gonzalez would later flee the country after his recovery from a local hospital. Injuries sustained from Billy and Kathy Inman were life-altering enough that they were unable to attend their son’s funeral.

Dustin Inman

Dustin’s Father would spend his remaining years advocating for tougher immigration policies while caring for his wife until his death of a heart attack on June 7, 2019.

One of King’s concerns is the fate of the federal program 287(g), which was designed to help local law enforcement ID, process, and expedite the removal of aliens with criminal or pending charges. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security acknowledges the program has contributed to over nine hundred assault convictions and nearly 40 individuals convicted of homicide, just in 2020 alone. King believes the Biden Administration will take a blanket amnesty approach that threatens the program. Currently, six agencies in Georgia use the 287(g) program.

Governor Brian Kemp’s in King’s crosshairs as well for his alleged failed campaign promise on immigration. With heightened awareness on the economy, social justice, and the pandemic, King says, “he [Kemp] has betrayed them” on the issue of immigration enforcement. While Kemp was vocal about the issue during his 2018 bid for Governor, Kemp failed to mention immigration in his State of the State Address to legislators on January 13 of this year.

Consequently, King vows to continue putting pressure on lawmakers to ensure immigration enforcement policy isn’t lost in the conversation, especially as we enter the 2022 race for Governor.

Kemp, Duncan, and Ralston ask Georgia Republicans to “hold the line”

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Kemp, Duncan, Ralston

Today, Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston issued the following joint statement regarding the January 5th runoff elections in Georgia.

“The runoff elections on January 5th for two U.S Senate seats and a seat on the Public Service Commission are the most important elections in the history of our great state. In addition to representing Georgia in Washington D.C., Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are all that stand between our country and the road to socialism. They are the firewall against the destruction of the Trump agenda: lower taxes, a rebuilt military, strong foreign policy, pro-family and pro-business deregulation, and the best economy our nation has ever seen.

“The choice before the people of our state could not be clearer. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both support a radical agenda that would forever change the fabric of our nation. Their own words and actions make it abundantly clear they will do everything in their power to raise taxes, defund the police, lock down our economy, and destroy private health insurance. With complete control of Washington, Warnock and Ossoff will do the bidding of Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. If elected, Warnock and Ossoff will guarantee that New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and California decide the future of Georgians right here in the Peach State.

Senator Kelly Loeffler campaigning with Congressman-elect Andrew Clyde.

“David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have always put Georgians first. They have lived the American Dream and now fight every day in Washington to ensure that dream is still achievable for Georgians in every corner of our state.

“As the top state for business for the eighth year in a row, conservative Republican leadership has kept our taxes low, passed meaningful healthcare reform, and taken the fight to criminal street gangs and human traffickers. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have supported those efforts at the state level and fought for the same Georgia values in Washington. Throughout Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald’s service to our state, he has been a strong advocate for both Georgia ratepayers and businesses.

“The future of our state and nation is on the ballot January 5th. The stakes could not be higher. Georgia Republicans must unite in service to our country – we must all vote, and make sure our friends and family do the same.

Senator David Perdue campaigning in Union County.

“We must hold the line and send David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler back to the U.S. Senate. We must also protect Georgia’s unparalleled business environment and re-elect Bubba McDonald to the Public Service Commission. It is up to us to reject socialism, win Georgia, and save America.”

Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is also on the ballot in January.

Kemp still refusing to call special session, commends House’s efforts toward election reform

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kemp special session

ATLANTA, Ga – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp maintained his hardline stance against calling a special session of the General Assembly.

In a joint statement, Kemp and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan declared they would not bend to party pressures. They asserted that a special session to select presidential electors isn’t allowed under federal and state law.

Read the full statement from Kemp and Duncan:

“While we understand four members of the Georgia Senate are requesting the convening of a special session of the General Assembly, doing this in order to select a separate slate of presidential electors is not an option that is allowed under state or federal law.

“State law is clear: the legislature could only direct an alternative method for choosing presidential electors if the election was not able to be held on the date set by federal law. In the 1960s, the General Assembly decided that Georgia’s presidential electors will be determined by the winner of the state’s popular vote. Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the November 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution.

“The judicial system remains the only viable – and quickest – option in disputing the results of the November 3rd election in Georgia.”

However, Kemp commended Georgia House of Representatives, Speaker David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge), and House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington) for proposing reforms to the election process. The governor’s also been a strong proponent for signature verification reforms.

In a letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) and State Elections Board, Burns and more than 100 House members suggested improvements to the absentee ballot application and envelope signature verification process.

“Many Georgians, including my colleagues who have signed this correspondence, have serious concerns about Georgia’s elections,” said Leader Burns. “As we approach a critical election on January 5, 2021, Georgia voters must have confidence in the election process going forward. To that end, my colleagues in the House and I have submitted two common-sense suggestions to help ensure secure elections on January 5. I thank Secretary Raffensperger and the State Election Board for considering these suggestions that would rebuild some of the trust that Georgians may have lost in our election process.”

The letter called for robust verification process reforms, such as allowing independent observers to witness signature reviews. They also proposed the Secretary of State’s office partner with other state agencies.

“Multiple news outlets reported significant failures in counties across our state before, during, and after Election Day,” added Leader Burns. “These counties were rural, suburban, and metro-area and represented all demographics and areas of our state. We hope these suggestions can help Georgians rest assured that each and every legal vote is counted here in Georgia.”

Last Thursday, Trump legal team presented a witness who contended Kemp could convene a special session for this purpose. However, the move would tie the state up in legal battles. Most alleged voter fraud evidence has been rebutted by the Secretary of State’s Office. Raffensperger also opened 250 voter fraud investigations last week but claimed there’s no evidence of systemic fraud. Since Georgia effectively moved to a paper ballot system, election officials can review paper records against the Dominion system.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger likened Trump’s tactics to Stacey Abrams (D).

He told the WSJ that the November election was “the most secure in history” and that election problems started long-before 2020. Calling out politicians and pundits who refuse to accept election results like Stacey Abrams, who “still refuses to acknowledge she lost,” Raffensperger pointed to a loss of confidence in the system.

Many Georgia GOP senators echoed a similar sentiment last Thursday during Oversight Committee and Special Judicial Subcommittee hearings. Constituents have expressed a loss of trust in the election process and an unwillingness to return to the polls.

Georgia Senate Majority Whip Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega_

“I’m going to try to build this statement based on a consensus of what I’m hearing from the people that I represent: We have totally lost confidence in our election system this year,” Senate Republican Whip Steve Gooch of Dahlonega said.   “I’m here on behalf of those citizens. I have a duty to let you know that this issue isn’t going to go away unless we make some changes.”

Later this week, the Georgia House of Representatives will hold a Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on elections.

Details about Kemp’s shelter in place order

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ATLANTA, Ga – Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter in place order took effect on Friday, April 3 at 6 p.m. and will last until Monday, April 13, unless otherwise extended. The order came after Kemp reportedly just learned about asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19.

Under the shelter in place order, Kemp placed travel restrictions on residents except for “essential services,” “minimal basic operations,” and “critical infrastructure” workers.

Residents can only receive visitors that provide essential services – medical and supplies, end-of-life care, and items necessary for daily life. Visitors must maintain six feet of distance from residents. These directives will be strictly enforced in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

Essential services include necessary provisions trips to stores and pharmacies, medical visits, emergency services, and outdoor exercise – six feet apart from others. Citizens are encouraged to use delivery and curbside services over in-store shopping.

Critical Infrastructure is identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, such as home care, hospice, suppliers, legal services, health care, food banks, and non-profit mental health services. Local ordinances can’t impede these organizations.

Minimum Basic Operations include the bare necessities in order to maintain businesses as well as allow them to remain open under the order. Remote work and outside jobs like landscaping, agriculture, contractors, and delivery services are still possible under the order.

All Critical and Non-Critical Infrastructure businesses must implement the following mitigation measures:

  • Screen workers for sickness including fevers of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or more, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • Workers who exhibit symptoms must stay home.
  • Regular sanitation of business and place hand sanitation encouragement in visible areas.
  • Required employee handwashing or sanitation as appropriate places in business.
  • Provide protective equipment as available and appropriate.
  • Prohibit employee gatherings while at work.
  • Permit breaks to be taken outside, individual’s office desk, or where social distancing is possible.
  • Implement telework for all possible employees and hold all meetings virtually.
  • Stagger shifts.
  • Deliver intangibles remotely when possible.
  • Discourage workers from using other employees’ phones.
  • Prohibit handshakes.
  • Suspend use of PIN pads for entry, electronic signature capture, and any other credit card receipt signature requirements.
  • Enforce social distancing
  • Provide an alternate point of sale for retailers and service providers
  • Increase distance between customers and employees.
  • Provide disinfectant and sanitation tools to employees.
  • Create six feet of distance between workspaces.

Restaurants, diners, bars, social clubs, gyms, bowling alleys, theaters, venues, salons, body art studios, and massage parlors are now closed until the order ends. Takeout, curbside, and delivery are permitted. This doesn’t apply to health care or nursing home cafeterias, but in-room dining is strongly encouraged.

If an emergency that requires residents to leave their homes, then the shelter in place order can be overlooked.

On April 3, Kemp deputized local law enforcement to ensure everyone follows the shelter in place order.

Local government can’t pass any ordinances that don’t fall in line with the shelter in place order. They can, however, pass ordinances that “enforce compliance with the order.”

shelter in placeshelter in place shelter in place

Kemp, Carden deploy soldiers to fight COVID-19 in long-term care facilities

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Atlanta, GA – Over the next few weeks, Governor Brian P. Kemp and Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden will activate and deploy over 100 Guardsmen to any long-term care facility – assisted living facility or nursing home – with COVID-19 cases. The Governor and Adjutant General will send troops to specific locations to implement infection control protocols and enhanced sanitation methods to mitigate COVID-19 exposure among vulnerable residents.

“Georgia’s top priority is increasing healthcare capacity to protect vulnerable Georgians, especially those residing in long-term care facilities,” said Governor Kemp. “If we can keep these populations as healthy as possible, we will be able to conserve precious medical supplies and hospital bed space in the coming days and weeks.”

“The Georgia National Guard stands ready to assist any long-term care facility in this time of need through staff training and implementation of infectious disease control measures,” said Adjutant General Tom Carden. “Our training has prepared us to fight this virus, and we are eager to lend a hand in this battle.”

Twenty soldiers are headed to Pelham, Georgia today to Pelham Parkway Nursing Home to audit existing sanitation methods, train staff on utilizing more aggressive infectious disease control measures, and thoroughly clean the facility. This facility has reported five confirmed cases of COVID-19. For future missions, only four or five soldiers will deploy to a specific facility. However, for Pelham Parkway Nursing Home, twenty soldiers are going for training purposes.

This assignment is the first of several missions based on close cooperation with the Georgia National Guard, Department of Public Health, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Georgia Health Care Association, and Georgia Center for Assisted Living.

Kemp Closes K-12 Public Schools Through April 24

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SBA Kemp

Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp issued Executive Order 03.26.20.02 closing public elementary and secondary schools for in-person instruction through April 24, 2020. Students may return to school on Monday, April 27, 2020.

“I am deeply grateful to State School Superintendent Richard Woods, the Georgia Department of Education, superintendents, and parents for keeping us informed and helping us make the right decision for our students,” said Governor Kemp. “Throughout this process, we will continue to seek the advice of public health officials, school leaders, and families to ensure the health and safety of the educational community. As we approach April 24, 2020, we ask for continued patience and flexibility since circumstances may change, but we encourage families to stay strong and follow the guidance of federal, state, and local leaders in the weeks ahead.”

The University System of Georgia and Technical College System of Georgia will remain closed for in-person instruction through the rest of the semester since students have already transitioned to all online learning.

To read Kemp’s latest update on the COVID-19 in Georgia, click here.

UPDATE: Gov. Kemp instructs medically at-risk individuals to shelter in place

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quarantine GEMA

ATLANTA, Ga – In a March 23 press conference, Gov. Kemp issued multiple executive orders and asked for the public’s help to ensure everyone is following CDC and Georgia Department of Health (DPH) guidelines during the country’s self-quarantine.

While Kemp is still hesitant to shut down all non-essential businesses or institute a statewide mandatory quarantine, he did issue an executive order to all medically fragile individuals to shelter in place. He listed off these individuals: the elderly, long-term care patients, chronic lung disease individuals, cancer patients, or anyone suspected of having COVID-19.

In another executive order, Kemp closed all bars and nightclubs in the state and banned large gatherings (more than 10).

Kemp also said to fellow Georgians that if they see anyone not following the CDC of DPH guidelines, “call them out or report them to us.” He seemed prepared to take action against anyone not listening to his instructions or taking COVID-19 seriously.

“Fight this virus with everything you got,” stated Kemp toward the end of his press conference.

Georgians can also call the DPH COVID-19 hotline at (844) 442-2681. If they believe that they’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact their primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Do not show up at a clinic or emergency room unannounced.

Georgia now has 23 referral-only testing facilities in the state. Kemp released the location of the facilities in a tweet.


Update from March 15, 2020 below

Gov. Kemp, Georgia Department of Health (DPH), and Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) started construction of a quarantine zone in Monroe County on March 14, 2020. Additionally, the Georgia General Assembly ratified the executive order declaring a Public Health State of Emergency.

“This is one of many measures that we’re taking to prepare for any scenario,” said Gov. Kemp. “I appreciate the hard work of GEMA, DPH, and Monroe County officials to protect the health and safety of all Georgians.”

Public Health Emergency

Gov. Brian Kemp

The quarantine space is for people who are unable to self-isolate and is located in the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) Campus in Monroe County. The quarantine space will be able to accommodate twenty temporary housing units. No patients are currently located at the facility.

Monroe County is working with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) and GPSTC officials to ensure the facility will meet the needs of potential patients while protecting the health and safety of Monroe County residents.

Public Health Emergency Ratification

Kemp can now officially enforce all laws, rules, and regulations associated with the emergency; assume control of all state civil forces and helpers; seize property temporarily for public’s protection; exercise other duties deemed necessary for safety; use all the resources available of the state government; direct evacuation; suspend of alcohol, explosives, and combustibles; and provide temporary housing if applicable.

Since this is a public health emergency, Kemp also has the ability to “implement a mandatory vaccination or quarantine” in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2). The Georgia Department of Health (DPH) already has this capability to mandate quarantine and vaccinations.

Additionally, Kemp can direct DPH’s efforts to coordinate the department’s response to the crisis from risk assessments, mitigation, responses, and recovery throughout the state.

The General Assembly also granted Kemp the ability to extend the state of emergency if the elected representative body can’t convene in time.

Original Article:

On Saturday morning, Governor Brian Kemp officially declared Georgia’s first Public Health Emergency, freeing up resources and granting additional powers to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency (GEMA). The General Assembly will vote on the executive order on Monday.

A Public Health Emergency is enacted when an infectious disease/illness presents an imminent threat and can potentially result in a high number of deaths and/or exposure could harm large amounts of people.

So, what exactly does this executive order entail for Georgians? In short, it guarantees a continuous supply of medical goods and other emergency materials, as well as giving DPH and GEMA powers to “taken any action necessary to protect the public’s health” with the governor’s permission.

The department of public health is authorized to “actively monitor” persons under investigation (PUI), including a risk assessment within 24 hours of identification, and twice-daily temperature checks for 14 days or until a negative test result.

Here’s the entire executive order for those who want to review it.

These actions include “implementing quarantine, isolation, and other necessary public health interventions in accordance with O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 and Code 38-3-51(i)(2) or as other authorized by law.

O.C.G.A. Code 31-12-4 addresses isolation and segregation of diseased persons stating the DPH and county boards can isolate or quarantine individuals suspected of harboring infectious diseases, or until they test negative for the contagion.  The department also must widely publicize the rules and regulations for the quarantine.

O.C.G.A. Code 38-3-51(i)(2) lists the due processes afforded to those in quarantine and seeks to leave before the department of public health gives the okay.

Additionally, the Georgia Emergency Operations Plan is activated. DPH and GEMA must coordinate with state, federal, and local government, recovery operations, mitigation, emergency response activities, CDC, and the release of the national stockpile of goods.

The public must also be informed about public health operations, including education and prevention measures.

Commercial vehicles have certain restrictions lifted, so they can operate more freely to move supplies throughout the state.

Georgia Board of Nurses and Georgia Composite Medical Board can grant temporary licenses to applicants that are in good standing with an equivalent board in another state.

All state and local healthcare facilities, physicians, clinics, and personnel must comply with the governor’s orders.

Price gouging on products on goods and services necessary in this public health emergency is prohibited.

The Georgia National Guard was called in on March 14 to assist in the crisis.

The executive order expires on April 13, 2020, unless Gov. Kemp renews it.

Copy of Gov. Kemp Special Session proclamation.

Kemp: Public Health Emergency in Georgia Effective Tomorrow

Press Release, State & National
Public Health Emergency

Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian Kemp’s office released a press release on Friday, March 13 to announce the intention to declare Georgia’s first public health emergency.

Following President Trump’s national emergency declaration today, Governor Kemp issued the following statement:

“Based on President Trump’s emergency declaration, I will declare a public health emergency for the State of Georgia tomorrow morning. This declaration will greatly assist health and emergency management officials across Georgia by deploying all available resources for the mitigation and treatment of COVID-19. In accordance with state law, I will call for a special session of the General Assembly to convene at the State Capitol at 8 AM on Monday, March 16, 2020 to ratify this action through a joint resolution.

“At this time, it is appropriate for faith-based organizations and similar entities to consider cancellation of public events and services. Contact your local public health office or consult official sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Georgia Department of Public Health, for helpful guidance on decision-making. Elderly citizens and those with chronic, underlying health conditions face a serious threat to their health, and we must do everything in our power to reduce risk associated with this virus. Continue to support one another, be mindful of potential exposure, use best practices to prevent infection, and pray for your fellow Americans in the weeks ahead.”

After reviewing state records, it appears that Governor Kemp’s declaration tomorrow will constitute Georgia’s first-ever public health emergency. The applicable code section is O.C.G.A. 38-3-51.

For updates on COVID-19, follow @GeorgiaEMA, @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Twitter and @GEMA.OHS, @GaDPH and @GovKemp on Facebook. For more information, visit the DPH’s coronavirus webpage at https://dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus.

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