ATLANTA – Governor Brian Kemp and Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler outlined a plan to combat the labor shortage and jumpstart Georgia’s economic recovery.
Federal pandemic unemployment programs will end on Saturday, June 26, 2021. State officials will provide resources for job search support, education and training opportunities, childcare and transportation services, and safe workplace initiatives for workers, families, and employers leading up to then.
“GDOL has dispersed almost $22 billion in the past fourteen months to support families in this crisis, paying mortgages, electric bills, and grocery tabs when Georgians were in greatest need. It is critical for us to support our economy and local businesses by providing solutions to the roadblocks many Georgians have faced when returning to work,” said Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.
Georgians on Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will no longer receive the weekly $300 payments.
Other programs ending are:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for those in the gig economy, part-time, or self-employed.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) offers an extension of benefits once regular benefits are exhausted.
Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) provides an additional $100 benefit to certain people with mixed earnings.
The payments will be processed through June 26, 2021 Regular state unemployment will continue for eligible Georgians. The maximum weekly benefit is $365.
According to Butler, the Employ Georgia jobs platform has a record number of employment opportunities.
“During truly unprecedented times, hardworking Georgians have stayed resilient and businesses of all sizes have quickly adapted to an unpredictable environment,” said Governor Kemp. “Even in the middle of a global pandemic, job growth and economic development in Georgia remained strong – including an unemployment rate below the national average.”
Earlier in the week, Majority Whip and State Senator Steve Gooch (R-51) sent a letter to the Governor asking Kemp to end the federal unemployment programs. Several other states have taken similar measures as small businesses and restaurants continue to experience a labor shortage.
ATLANTA – Majority Whip and State Senator Steve Gooch (R-51) has asked Governor Brian Kemp (R) to halt the federal unemployment relief in Georgia.
In a letter sent to Kemp’s desk today, Gooch details how many small businesses are struggling to find people to work. Many restaurants can’t fully open because they don’t have the staff.
“While we are still recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic, local business owners are desperate for employees – not customers. Every job creator agrees that this workforce shortage is a direct result of the federal expanded unemployment benefits, where employees are incentivized to stay home and collect government checks that often exceed what they would earn at the job site. This labor shortage has caused many restaurants to alter their hours of operation and is having an oversized impact on the supply chain of every sector of the economy. In fact, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers cannot deliver their goods and services to their customers. Costs are skyrocketing due to limited inventories and Georgia businesses – and consumers – are struggling to foot the bill.” – Senator Steve Gooch
Gooch touches on teacher’s unions preventing parents from returning to work because some schools haven’t returned to in-person learning.
The Senator cites that a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available and free to whoever wishes to take it.
He urges Kemp to take executive action and stop the unemployment benefits or include the issue in a Special Session late this summer.
The American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden (D) on March 11, 2021, extended Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs through September 6, 2021.
FPUC sends out a $300 weekly supplement until September 6, 2021 “as appropriate” and is subject to deductions, child support, and overpayment recoveries.
Last week, Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (R) moved to reinstate the weekly “work search” updates required to receive unemployment benefits. Florida suspended the measure when the pandemic began.
Georgia Department of Labor Commissioner Mark Butler (R) released an earlier statement that the Georgia requirements for unemployment are likely to return within the next few months.
“We are hearing from employers that are struggling to meet demand right now due to the lack of applicants for open positions,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “Our mission is to not only bridge the pay gap for those who are temporarily unemployed, but to also provide reemployment support for those who are looking to reenter the workforce filling the critical vacancies we are seeing in almost every industry right now.”
ATLANTA – Former State Representative Vernon Jones announced his intentions to run for Georgia Governor on Friday, April 16 at Liberty Park next to the Georgia State Capitol.
“This is the beginning of a movement whose time has come,” Jones opened. “For those of you who feel the incumbent Governor didn’t fight for you, a new day has dawned.”
Focused on looking past differences of North and South Georgia, race, or class, Jones pledged to bring opportunities for everyone.
He promised election integrity, school choice, support for law enforcement, driving crime out of Atlanta, comprehensive economic plan, natural resource preservation, and creating one Georgia.
Jones a vocal critic of Governor Brian Kemp recently became a Republican, perhaps just to primary Kemp. Previously, Jones denounced the Democrat Party but stated he had no plans of changing Parties. He’s a strong Trump supporter as well.
“Even sitting on the back of the truck won’t change it,” Jones remarked about Kemp’s attempts to rehabilitate his image among some Republicans.
By signing SB 202, Kemp’s appeared to win back some support from disillusioned Republican voters. It’s unclear to what extent in rural Georgia.
Jones added SB 202 didn’t address the issue of changing the election system, but he didn’t elaborate on the needed changes.
Trump’s continued to criticize Georgia elected officials including Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for not supporting his efforts to overturn 2020 election results. The former President promised to haunt these individuals during their 2022 reelection efforts.
So far, he’s made good on his promise, Representative Jody Hice (R-10) announced his intentions to run for Secretary of State and within hours Trump endorsed him. Trump’s floated ideas about those who should run for governor and senator in Georgia.
“Our country and our army are going to be inclusive regardless of race, gender, or orientation. We are building an army. The establishment and outlets are going to come after me. Matter of fact, they already are and you know why? It’s because they know the governor can’t beat Stacey Abrams and they know Stacey Abrams can’t beat Vernon Jones,” the former representative commented while using Trump’s attack the media and fiery rhetoric tactics.
Jones has recently spent several weekends in Mar-a-Lago and told the crowd that he sends his regards.
Jones will have for his time as a Democrat to Republican voters even though he used to describe himself as a “conservative Democrat.”
At his campaign launch, Jones said, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me.” He continued to talk about his faith-based, hard work, and less government driven values.
He stated that Democrats have two crows “Joe and Jim,” and they have “hijacked” the Civil Rights Movement for political gain and money. Stacey Abrams in his book is “the wicked witch of the south.”
Earlier this week, he asked that Georgian’s show him the same courtesy that they did to former Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal who also switched Parties. The last Democrat governor in Georgia was Roy Barnes in 1999.
ATLANTA – Election reform is coming to Georgia after Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed the SB 202, Election Integrity Act of 2021, mere hours after it landed on his desk.
During his televised remarks about the legislation Kemp stated, “With Senate Bill 202, Georgia will take another step in ensuring elections, accessible and fair.”
He thanked Chairman Barry Flemming and Chairman Max Burns and Senate and House Leadership for their work on the issue.
Kemp also mentioned his fight to keep Georgia’s elections fair by investigating voter fraud and defending the state’s voter ID laws.
“After November I knew like so many of you that significant reforms to our state elections were needed. There’s no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled and those problems understandable led to the crisis of confidence at the ballot box here in Georgia,” Kemp said.
Kemp was the first to call on Raffensperger to audit the absentee ballots and did so four times.
SB 202 replaces signature match with a state-issued ID requirement and Kemp believes this will streamline the absentee ballot process. He added the bill makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Weekend voting will be expanded to two mandatory Saturdays and two optional Sundays. Ballot drop boxes will be secured 24/7 and security paper is required for ballot authentication.
“November 2020 election saw a 350 percent increase in the use of absentee ballots,” Kemp explained. “This obviously led local election workers to have to process far more ballots using a time consuming, labor-intensive, and at times arbitrary process.”
Georgia Democrats have been vocal about their opposition to the bill, calling it a power grab for a declining party that doesn’t know how to connect with a changing Georgia.
Election Integrity Act of 2021 does limit the power of the Secretary of State, removing the elected official as chairman of the state board of elections. The Secretary of State will now be a “nonvoting ex officio member” and the legislature will appoint the chairman. The state board can now oversee and review the performance of local election boards too. If a board is found lacking, the state board can appoint a new supervisor for that county.
The 90-plus page bill can be read on the General Assembly site.
President Joe Biden (D) spoke about the election reform legislation sweeping Republican-controlled state legislatures. He called the bills “sick” saying it made “Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” He promised to do everything in his power to stop the reform efforts.
Other states with election bills in process are Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
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.
“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.
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’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.
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.”
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.
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.