Speaker says Georgia lawmakers to return with precautions

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said in a memo sent to state House members and staff on Tuesday that the legislative session paused in March because of the coronavirus will resume on June 11 with some new policies and procedures in place.

Ralston said that staff would begin transitioning back to offices at the Capitol on June 1, with in-person committee meetings set to resume June 2. Those returns had been planned for next week.

Ralston said in the memo that reconvening the General Assembly “poses some unique challenges with regard to preventing the spread of the virus.” A House report outlines safety procedures to be implemented at the Capitol before members return.

The report says that face coverings will be encouraged, but not required, for members of the public, people will have their temperature checked at the door and public spaces will be “fogged” daily to protect against the virus.

Georgia’s legislative session was put on hold in March as the virus spread rapidly across the state. When lawmakers reconvene, one of their biggest tasks will be grappling with a state budget that has been turned upside down by the pandemic.

John Porter, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, says that the state Senate isn’t yet on the same page as the House speaker. Duncan has pushed for an earlier return, but he and Ralston must agree on a date.

“We haven’t agreed to that date,” Porter said Tuesday.

This story has been corrected to show Ralston wrote and Porter spoke on Tuesday, not Monday.
Reprinted courtesy of The Associated Press.