The Georgia General Assembly returned to session Monday for the first time since June 2020 with coronavirus measures in place.
Legislators were required to observe COVID-19 restrictions including wearing masks and social distancing, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Legislators will be tested twice a week for COVID-19, said State Senator Mike Dugan (R-Carrollton), the Republican Senate leader.
Governor Brian Kemp will present his State of the State speech Thursday, which will include his budget proposal. The address will not be done at a joint session, which is a change from tradition. Legislators may watch online, the newspaper said.
The Georgia House Democratic Caucus Subcommittee on COVID-19 wasted no time in urging Kemp to expand his use of executive powers. One of the members quoted was State Representative Viola Davis (D-Stone Mountain).
“In view of the recent confirmation of a new more transmissible coronavirus variant this week in California, Colorado, New York, Florida and Georgia, our state clearly needs to take drastic measures to protect the health and welfare of the public,” said Rep. Davis. “On behalf of our constituents, we respectfully request that our governor use his executive powers to help slow the spread of COVID-19 while the state works to vaccinate the public. We wish for everyone to stay strong, safe and healthy in the face of the ongoing global health crisis.”
In the GHDC subcommittee’s most recent letter, these legislators request that Gov. Kemp review the need for a shelter-in-place order or limit large gatherings in bars, clubs and restaurants. Additionally, this subcommittee requests the closure of schools for in-person instruction, mandate masks and implement a moratorium on evictions and cutoff of utilities for 2021.
In less controversial news, the Georgia House of Representatives opened the session with Augusta resident and professional tenor Timothy Miller singing the national anthem and “God Bless America.”
Citizens who wish to watch the daily House proceedings during the session may do so by using a video archive here.
Also, Georgia House Communications Director Kaleb McMichen announced the formation of a new standing committee.
He tweeted, “The Georgia House of Representatives (@GaHouseHub) has created a new standing committee — Creative Arts & Entertainment. This committee will steward Georgia’s thriving entertainment industries and the thousands of jobs they support across the state.”
The Georgia House of Representatives (@GaHouseHub) has created a new standing committee — Creative Arts & Entertainment. This committee will steward Georgia’s thriving entertainment industries and the thousands of jobs they support across the state. @gafmde @gdecd #gapol
— Kaleb McMichen (@KalebMcMichen) January 11, 2021
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.