Georgia lawmakers discuss a June 11 date to resume legislative session

Top Georgia lawmakers are discussing resuming the state’s legislative session on June 11, after the coronavirus pandemic forced them to indefinitely suspend their work before they could adopt a spending plan for the next year.

The date isn’t final and must be approved by House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, according to several officials with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

But they said the June date has emerged as the likeliest return, though Duncan has also proposed a May 14 date. It means Georgia lawmakers could head back to the Capitol just two days after the June 9 primary.

The legislative session has been suspended since March 13, leaving the state's 2021 budget and hundreds of other bills pending. Ralston recently appointed a committee to make recommendations and review protocols for when the General Assembly reconvenes.

Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday he planned to meet with Duncan and Ralston this week to discuss when the Legislature should reconvene. Duncan and Ralston both declined comment.

He told WGAU radio that GOP leaders had two concerns: First, passing a budget that takes effect July 1 in time to take into account what are likely to be massive cuts.

Secondly, the governor said, the legislative leaders are “waiting until it’s a safe environment to do so, and have the proper protocols to where we can make sure that that’s not a dangerous situation.”

The legislative leaders said a June 11 date would give state officials more time to contain the pandemic, while also allowing budget negotiators a clearer picture of the disease’s economic toll before a June 30 deadline to pass a spending plan.