By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Georgia lawmakers eye resuming legislative session amid coronavirus
State Capitol
The Capitol building in Atlanta looms on “crossover” eve on March 12, 2020. - photo by Beau Evans

ATLANTA — Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has created a committee to look at how to close out the remainder of the 2020 legislative session, which was put on hold last month as concerns over coronavirus ramped up.

The General Assembly session has been suspended since March 13, leaving hundreds of bills and critical budget negotiations in limbo. Georgia is also under a statewide shelter-in-place order issued by Gov. Brian Kemp through the end of April.

Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the state Senate’s presiding officer, have not indicated when they may reconvene the 2020 session, which they are empowered to do.

The General Assembly’s only legal responsibility is to pass a state budget for the upcoming fiscal year before July 1. Top lawmakers like Ralston have signaled the budget could see a dramatic overhaul prompted by the deep economic impacts from coronavirus.

In a letter sent Thursday, Ralston tapped five state lawmakers and several key Capitol staffers to serve on the committee. The committee aims to review protocols and recommend how to move forward with the session, Ralston said.

“None of us can know what the remainder of the session will look like,” he wrote. “All we can know is that how we conduct our business will be significantly different than when we suspended the session on March 13.”

The committee members include House Majority Leader Jon Burns, R-Newington, and House Minority Leader Bob Trammell, D-Luthersville.

Also included are Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, who chairs the House majority caucus; Rep. William Boddie, D-East Point, the minority whip; and Rep. Mark Newton, R-Augusta, who chairs the House Special Committee on Access to Quality Health Care.

Among staff, the committee includes Bill Reilly, the House clerk; Ralston’s chief of staff, Spiro Amburn; Ralston’s constituent-services director, Holli Pitcock; and the House communications chief, Betsy Theroux.