Ag News

Gov. Kemp signs legislation supporting Georgia Agriculture

Posted on May 03, 2024 at 10:57 AM

Governor's office press release

In an April 30 ceremony in Valdosta,  Gov. Brian Kemp signed a package of legislation focused on supporting Georgia’s ever-growing agricultural industry and improving security against foreign adversaries.

Among other things, included in this package is legislation that tackles ownership of agricultural land or land near military installations by certain individuals acting as an agent of a foreign adversary, alleviates high input costs for farmers and ranchers, protects children from misleading and dangerous marketing, and increases the penalty for livestock theft.

“As valued members of our state's number one industry, Georgia’s farming families deserve our enduring support as they face unprecedented challenges, including having to navigate disastrous federal energy policies, attempts by foreign adversaries to acquire farmland, and theft of property,” Kemp said. “We are tackling these challenges head on, and I want to thank our legislative partners for their work on these important issues."

While the legislation Gov. Kemp signed primarily focused on agriculture-related issues, it also addresses career burnout among healthcare professionals and goes after those who are distributing fentanyl-laced medications or controlled substances.

Photo by Damon Jones

Kemp signed nine pieces of legislation included below:

• SB 420, sponsored by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, prohibits the ownership or acquisition of agricultural land or non-residential land within a 25-mile radius of a military location by a nonresident alien acting as an agent of a government designated as a foreign adversary, entity domiciled/majorly owned in certain countries, or governments of countries designated as a foreign adversary by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

• SB 340, sponsored by Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick adds diesel exhaust fluid (for agricultural uses only) to the Georgia Agricultural Tax Exemption (GATE) - alleviating high input costs for our farmers and ranchers.

• HB 827, sponsored by Rep. Tyler Paul Smith, increases the penalty for livestock theft and awards Title 16 law enforcement authority to the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) and includes language from HB 1164 relating to criminal trespass involving a wild animal that is contained in a cage, enclosure, etc.

• SB 494, sponsored by Sen. Sam Watson, makes changes to the framework for hemp regulation in Georgia to allow the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) to have greater oversight and enforcement power and adds labeling, packaging, and marketing requirements to protect children from misleading and dangerous marketing.

• SB 436, sponsored by Watson, expands the definition of farm-use vehicles as it relates to road right-of-way to include any lawful operators of tractors or husbandry implement used primarily for agriculture.

• HB 455, sponsored by Representative John LaHood, requires that professional programs established to address career fatigue and wellness in healthcare professionals are not obligated to report information on individual cases to the respective licensing boards unless they are determined to not be competent to continue to practice or are a danger to themselves or others.

• HB 1335, sponsored by Representative John LaHood, adjusts staffing requirements in personal care homes, assisted living communities, and memory care centers by ensuring that no fewer than two on-site direct care staff are present on the premise at all times with at least one staff person on each floor. If the personal care home has implemented a medical alert system and each resident is provided a wearable device that connects to such system, then the staff person may move about the premises as necessary.

• HB 906, sponsored by Representative Bill Yearta, provides for an additional superior court judge to the Tifton Judicial Circuit to be appointed by the Governor for a term beginning July 1, 2024, through December 31, 2025. The position will then become elected.

• SB 465, sponsored by Senator Russ Goodman, targets those involved in distributing fentanyl-laced medications to unknowing consumers by creating the offense of aggravated involuntary manslaughter for persons who manufacture or sell an apparent controlled substance that contains fentanyl and causes the fentanyl overdose death of another. The bill also establishes a criminal penalty for unregulated persons to possess a pill press, tableting machine, encapsulating machine, or other materials used to manufacture controlled or counterfeit substances.

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