Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law Sunday a bill by Rep. Eddie Lumsden aimed at strengthening volunteer fire departments and the communities that rely on them.
House Bill 387 lets volunteer fire departments place liens against non-subscribers who ask for help but later refuse to cover the cost.
Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said about 25% of the fire departments in Georgia are volunteer. Many are nonprofits offering subscription services where no other protection is available.
“A (Georgia State) Firefighters Association representative contacted me about carrying it since I have a public safety background,” the retired Georgia State Patrol trooper said Sunday.
“It came out of an issue common to many volunteer fire departments across the state but also because of a substantial fire in Chatham County,” Lumsden added.
Kemp signed the measure, along with a number of other public safety bills, at a ceremony in Savannah. Lumsden said he couldn’t attend because he was celebrating with his wife, Teresa Lumsden, the 50th anniversary of their first date.
Two other bills Lumsden was involved with were enacted with a stroke of the governor’s pen Friday in Chickamauga. A GSP helicopter brought Kemp to Gordon Lee High School and dropped him off on the football field.
The featured bill at the signing ceremony was SB 77, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, which provides added protection for monuments within the state.
While efforts to remove Confederate statues sparked calls for the legislation, Kemp cited the monument of Martin Luther King Jr., and praised King’s legacy of peace.
“It’s true we have monuments that do not reflect our values,” Kemp said. But, he said, those monuments are also part of our history and we can learn from them.
During the same ceremony, Kemp signed Lumsden’s HB 33, which extends the gun permit renewal period for active duty military personnel who are stationed out of the country.
Also, Lumsden was the House sponsor of a bill by Mullis that lets people prepay their local property taxes if their county adopts a resolution authorizing the early payments.
SB 77 also allows county tax commissioners to auction properties with delinquent taxes in their offices or places other than the courthouse steps.
Catoosa County News staff writer Tamara Wolk contributed to this report.