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Georgia political group launches ads backing Gov. Brian Kemp’s push to limit lawsuits

By JEFF AMY, Associated Press
Published: October 2, 2023, 7:37am

ATLANTA (AP) — A political group linked to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says it is launching an ad campaign backing the Republican’s efforts to make it harder for people to file lawsuits and win big legal judgments.

The group, called Hardworking Georgians, said Monday that limits would cut insurance costs and make it easier for businesses to get insured and to defend against lawsuits in court.

The group says it will spend more than $100,000 on ads in the state.

It remains unclear exactly what Kemp will propose, although one element will be to limit lawsuits against property owners for harms on their property caused by someone else.

Kemp announced his plan to back lawsuit limits in August at a meeting of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

“For too long, Georgia tort laws have encouraged frivolous lawsuits that hamstring job creators, drive up insurance costs for families already struggling to make ends meet, undermine fairness in the courtroom, and make it harder to start, grow, and operate a small business,” Cody Hall, the group’s executive director and Kemp’s top political aide, said in a statement.

Kemp also argues lawsuit limits could help lower costs for inflation-pinched households, in part by lowering Georgia’s high auto insurance rates.

Efforts to limit lawsuits have made little progress in the Georgia General Assembly in recent years, but could find a warmer reception from Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and House Speaker Jon Burns than from earlier Republican leaders.

Georgia lawmakers capped noneconomic damages including pain and suffering in a 2005 tort reform law, but the state Supreme Court overturned such caps as unconstitutional in 2010.

This year, Kemp pushed into law almost all of the agenda he sought when he was reelected, leaving him able to launch new initiatives.

Kemp has continued to raise large sums since he was reelected. Another Kemp-linked group, the Georgians First Leadership Committee, which can raise unlimited contributions under state law, raised more than $5 million from February through June this year.

Most of that came from a $3.75 million transfer from Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign, but a number of large companies and trade associations, including some backing lawsuit limits, made $25,000 contributions.

Kemp also is using the money to bolster some Republican state lawmakers in the upcoming 2024 elections, while seeking to defeat some Democrats.

The incumbent continues to raise money, in part, because of a continuing split between himself and the state Republican Party, which is now largely controlled by supporters of former President Donald Trump. Kemp is encouraging donors to give to him instead, which also boosts his standing if he chooses to run for Senate or president in the future.

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