Gov. Brian Kemp addressed the Sandy Springs Perimeter Chamber of Commerce board of directors in a private gathering May 1, outlining his new administration’s accomplishments in the budget, the economy, crime-fighting and healthcare.

Gov. Brian Kemp.

The abortion-banning “heartbeat bill” and the Georgia Department of Transportation’s highway toll lanes projects were among big state-level topics of interest to local business that Kemp apparently only mentioned in passing or did not discuss, according to speaking notes provided by his office.

“We will put hard-working Georgians first – ahead of politics and the status quo,” Kemp said in his speaking notes.

Kemp touted some items in the amended 2019 and 2020 state budgets, including a $3,000 pay raise for teachers and other school professionals and funding for anti-gang police programs. As other legislative successes, he touted the Patients First Act, which allows his administration effectively to seek an expansion of Medicaid coverage for qualified Georgians, and tightening of sex-trafficking laws.

On the business front, he mentioned his Georgians First Commission, described in his notes as a “group of business leaders are working to identify taxes, fees, regulations and red tape that make it difficult to grow jobs, expand operations, and invest in local communities.”

In Kemp’s notes, he only briefly mentioned that he is “proud” of the “heartbeat bill,” or “LIFE Act,” which essentially grants citizenship to a fetus with a detectable heartbeat. Kemp advocated for the legislation, which passed the General Assembly, but he has yet to sign it into law. The bill is hotly controversial among business groups and local legislators of both parties for, among other reasons, possible economic impacts.

The gathering was held at The Select, a brand new restaurant at City Springs, Sandy Springs’ new civic center. It was a preview for the restaurant, which is set to open to the public shortly.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, who is a member of the Chamber board, wrote in a Facebook post after the event that it was Kemp’s fourth visit to his city since being sworn in. Paul said that is more official visits than former Governors Nathan Deal and Sonny Perdue made in their two terms.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.