Editor's Note: The following is a press release from Georgia Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga)
After adjourning for our 29th Legislative Day on March 13, the Georgia General Assembly entered into an indefinite suspension due to concerns around the novel coronavirus (COVD-19) pandemic. The following day, Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in Georgia and called for a special session of the Georgia General Assembly to ratify this order. Since then, the legislature has paused its official business as we focus our efforts on combatting COVID-19 and doing our part to reduce the spread of the virus.
One of the last actions of the General Assembly before we entered into our indefinite suspension was passing the amended budget for the 2020 fiscal year (AFY20). This budget, which will end at the beginning of July, included an additional $100 million for COVID-19 response efforts. In the last two weeks, Gov. Kemp has made additional transfers from the state’s emergency fund (or “Rainy Day” fund) to ensure that our state agencies have access to the resources they need to effectively respond to this pandemic. Georgia’s emergency fund (which currently totals nearly $3 billion) was critical during the financial recession a decade ago and is the result of years of careful stewardship of your tax dollars. We are fortunate to have this fund set up to help us efficiently address unforeseen disturbances like this, which have the potential to affect our state’s finances.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Gov. Kemp has worked tirelessly with the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, and other partners at the federal state and local levels in order to ensure that our response is as coordinated and effective as possible. This is an unprecedented situation that our state has been presented with, but Georgia has done an admirable job at doing its part in staying on top of the crisis and getting assistance to those who need it most. These agencies and departments host a wealth of resources on their websites such as updated statistics on COVID-19 in Georgia, what the symptoms are and what to do if you begin to experience them, how to apply for small business loan assistance, and additional guidance from the state and federal government. I encourage all citizens to remain as informed as possible during this time
I also would like to take a moment to thank the first responders and healthcare workers who are working around the clock to treat the surge of COVID-19 patients, along with their normal load of responsibilities. The long hours they work in uncertain and often dangerous circumstances away from their families is a sacrifice that we all recognize and appreciate.
When the General Assembly returns, we still need to approve the general budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year, which will take effect July 1st of this year. While the General Assembly may be taking a temporary pause, your legislators and elected officials are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that the needs of all Georgians are being met. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19 or about any legislation we have discussed up to this point.
Sen. Jeff Mullis serves as Chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at (404) 656.0057 or by email at email@example.com.