ATHENS – Gov. Brian Kemp pledged Tuesday to push for tort reform during the next session of the General Assembly this winter.

Capitol Beat News Service
This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

“The laws on our books make it too easy to bring frivolous lawsuits against Georgia business owners, which drive up the price of insurance and stop new, good-paying jobs from ever coming to communities that need them the most,” Kemp told an audience of the state’s political and business leaders at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Congressional Luncheon, held this year at Athens’ Classic Centre.

“Our business environment should help businesses start, operate, and grow – not incentivize higher prices, smaller payrolls, and more red tape.”

Advocates of tort reform – including insurance companies, physician groups, and the Georgia Chamber – have backed Republican-sponsored legislation for years aimed at what they say are “runaway” jury verdicts, but have little to show for it.

Opponents, including the trial lawyers lobby and legislative Democrats, say the various bills that have been introduced have favored insurers and would have made it harder for victims of car crashes and medical malpractice to get their day in court.

Kemp said he will work with lawmakers during the 2024 legislative session to reduce insurance premiums and level the playing field in courtrooms.

While the governor argued tort reform would help businesses’ bottom lines in Georgia going forward, he also touted record successes in economic development in the Peach State during the last fiscal year. He said Georgia saw $24 billion in investment during fiscal 2023 in 426 individual projects.

More than $20 billion of that investment and 82% of the new jobs created were outside of metro Atlanta, Kemp said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., who spoke before Kemp, cited several major examples of business growth in Georgia he said were made possible by bipartisan cooperation in Congress. His list included a new electric vehicle model that will be produced at the Kia plant in West Point, the $5.5 billion Hyundai EV plant now under construction west of Savannah, and Korean solar panel manufacturer Hanwha Qcells’ $2.5 billion plan to build a new plant in Cartersville and expand an existing facility in Cartersville.

“Georgia’s economic development is a team sport, and we’re all on the same team,” Ossoff said.

Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark called on Congress to strengthen federal research and development tax credits so the U.S. can head off China’s goal to dominate the development of artificial intelligence technology.

“China has made it a point in the last 20 years to be a leader in that space,” he said. “It’s vitally important that we have a vital R&D tax credit.”

This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, an initiative of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.