Georgia lawmakers will return June 15 to complete legislative session

Georgia lawmakers will return to Atlanta to complete the legislative session on June 15.

Legislators’ main task will be passing the state budget, which will be vastly different than the one they approved before the coronavirus pandemic slowed Georgia’s economy nearly to a halt.

For more than a month, House Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan have publicly debated when lawmakers should return to complete the remaining 11 days of the 40-day session.

Ralston called for a June 11 return, while Duncan initially said he and Senate leaders wanted to resume session on May 14 before calling for June 15.

“I appreciate the Senate recognizing that we should reconvene session in June as I proposed,” Ralston said in a letter to House members. “I believe this will enable us to best serve the people of our great state.”

John Porter, Duncan’s chief of staff, said they were glad Ralston agreed to return on June 15, which he has said will give lawmakers time to be tested for COVID after Tuesday’s primary.

“We appreciate (Ralston’s) work and open dialogue through this difficult time, but we all agree June 15th is the appropriate return date and we look forward to getting back to work,” Porter said.

The General Assembly suspended session in mid-March in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

But what the session will look like when lawmakers return is still unclear. Leaders in each chamber have been devising ways to resume session while also keeping people safe, though neither has issued official plans.