This morning, Governor Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Duncan, and Speaker Ralston announced an extension of Georgia’s State of Emergency until May 13th. This is the action that allows for expanded authorities of the Governor and Executive branch, not to be confused with the Governor’s statewide Shelter In Place order, which is currently set to expire on April 13th.
Of particular interest to our readers is that this action does not require the legislature to re-convene to ratify the agreement. There’s been a persistent rumor of a required April 15th meeting. That had some basis in fact, but was considered somewhat more of an option or target when the plans to suspend the 2020 regular meeting of the General Assembly were being made.
It is still expected that the General Assembly will return sometime prior to June 30th to, at a minimum, approve a budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1st. When that occurs, how much business will be considered at that time, and what that meeting would actually look like remain open questions. Right now, most that would be involved in making those decisions are squarely focused on the state’s response to the Covid-19 threat.
The press release explaining the extension of the state of emergency follows:
Atlanta, GA – Today Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston announced plans to extend Georgia’s public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020 to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under state law, the Governor may renew the public health state of emergency, which was otherwise set to expire on April 13, 2020. Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston agree it is necessary for the public health emergency to be renewed and will not be requesting a special legislative session, which was tentatively scheduled for April 15, 2020.
“To ensure the health and well-being of Georgians, I will extend the public health state of emergency through May 13, 2020. This measure will allow us to continue to deploy resources to communities in need, lend support to frontline medical providers, and keep preparing as we brace for potential patient surge in our healthcare facilities. We deeply appreciate the hard work of Georgians who are sheltering in place, using social distancing, and helping us flatten the curve. We are in this fight together,” said Governor Kemp. “I appreciate Lt. Governor Duncan and Speaker Ralston continuing to work with us to ensure resources are available to proactively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I thank them for their support of an extended emergency declaration. In these unprecedented times, we ask Georgians for their continued patience and prayers, especially for first responders, law enforcement, and the healthcare workers caring for the medically fragile. They are going above and beyond to keep us all safe, and we will never be able to repay them for their sacrifices.”
“We must continue our aggressive fight against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. “By extending the public health state of emergency, we can ensure Georgians have access to every available state resource during this crisis. Together, Speaker Ralston and I are working closely with Governor Kemp to do all we can to make sure we are meeting the needs of every Georgian. The General Assembly will continue to remain vigilant and available to assist our citizens in any way possible.”
“The entirety of our state government is working to protect the health and safety of our citizens, and I appreciate the work of our state personnel and first responders during this challenging time,” said Speaker David Ralston. “While we have difficult days ahead, we continue to coordinate with both local and federal partners in responding to needs as they arise. As Georgians, we will persevere and emerge stronger on the other side.”