03/13/2020 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- A Georgia State Trooper (right) walks the empty hallways of the Georgia State Capitol building during the 29th day of the Georgia Legislative session, Friday, March 13, 2020. Out of caution and in relation to the coronavirus, the Georgia General General Assembly suspended the legislative session until further notice. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

In-person Georgia House meetings not expected to resume until June

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston on Tuesday announced a delay of a planned return to the state Capitol, pushing the commencement of in-person meetings back by two weeks.

Legislative leadership still has not agreed upon the date when lawmakers will return to complete the session, but Ralston is taking steps for lawmakers to return June 11. Virtual meetings began being held last week.

In a memo to House members on Tuesday, Ralston said chamber members can return to the Capitol on June 1, with panels meeting in-person to discuss legislation beginning June 2. Ralston previously said chamber staff would return May 18, with in-person meetings resuming May 19.

“I appreciate your patience and flexibility as we deal with this evolving public health situation,” Ralston said in the memo. “We look forward to returning to the state Capitol and moving forward with the people’s business as soon as possible.”

Lawmakers suspended the session in mid-March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ralston and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan must agree upon when session resumes. The lieutenant governor’s office said they have not yet reached an agreement. 

A committee tasked with determining how legislative business will be conducted when the session resumes issued recommendations for staff members who return next month. 

Recommendations include limiting the number of entrances to the Capitol and legislative office building, installing temperature scanners — and turning away those with body temperatures higher than 100.4 degrees — and encouraging, but not requiring, those entering the building to wear face masks.

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