Georgia state employees likely to observe Juneteenth as a paid holiday next year

Juneteenth will become a paid day off for Georgia employees under a calendar of state holidays for 2022 that Gov. Brian Kemp released.

The memo was released two days after Cumming Republican state Rep. Lauren McDonald, on behalf of the governor, filed legislation that would expand the number of paid state holidays observed by Georgia employees from 12 to 13. House Bill 868 would update state law to stay in line with the federal government designating Juneteenth as a holiday.

Though it’s expected to pass, the General Assembly will have to approve HB 868 to make Georgia’s observation of Juneteenth official.

“The legislation that was pre-filed is in keeping with the state’s traditional protocol — last updated in 1984 with the addition of (the Martin Luther King Jr.) holiday — to recognize all federal holidays,” Kemp spokeswoman Katie Byrd said.

Officially, Juneteenth National Independence Day — which normally falls on June 19 — recognizes the day in 1865 when some slaves in Galveston, Texas, first learned they were free, despite the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in the Confederate states two years prior.

The holiday was approved by Congress earlier this year and signed into law by President Joe Biden. Since then, several metro Atlanta cities have made Juneteenth an official or paid holiday. Because the holiday will fall on a Sunday in 2022, Georgia will observe Juneteenth on June 20.