Some parts of Kemp's anti-gang push advance, others stall

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, file photo, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks on the rotunda about human trafficking during the opening day of the year for the general session of the state legislature in Atlanta. Georgia’s Republican governor and first lady have announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, a slate of legislative measures they want to see enacted this year to combat human trafficking.

ATLANTA - Legislation that would let victims of human trafficking petition the courts to vacate convictions for crimes committed while they were being trafficked gained final passage in the Georgia House of Representatives Tuesday.

The House unanimously passed The Debbie Vance Act, named for a survivor of human trafficking. Like others who have emerged on the other side of human trafficking, she faced obstacles to moving on with her life, said Georgia Rep. Bonnie Rich, R-Suwanee, who presented the bill on the House floor.

“Victims of human trafficking often come out with criminal arrests and convictions … that can prevent these victims from getting a job, housing and education,” Rich said.

The legislation, which originated in the Senate, is part of a package of human trafficking bills Gov. Brian Kemp has made a priority of his administration for this year’s General Assembly session.

A bill the Senate passed last week would punish convicted human traffickers who transport victims via commercial vehicles by banning them from obtaining a commercial driver’s license.

A third measure would criminalize improper sexual contact by a foster parent.

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