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With Juneteenth now a federal holiday, what about Georgia?

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 11:42 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - With Juneteenth now a federal holiday, what about Georgia? We reached out to Gov. Brian Kemp’s office to see if it could become a paid holiday for state employees.

There is a plan to talk about adding Juneteenth to the list. But for now there’s a law that only allows so many holidays. We looked through Georgia code and it says there can be no more than 12 state holidays in a year. Georgia already celebrates 12 state holidays, so the question is: How do you add Juneteenth?

Kemp has a decision to make.

“I think there’s gonna be a lot of pressure for him to do that, I think there’s gonna be a lot of persons asking him for that to happen,” said Senator Harold Jones, District 22.

Out of the 12 state holidays Georgia recognizes, there are ten that must be observed by Georgia law. That leaves flexibility for the two others. Georgia used to observe two confederate holidays until governor Nathan Deal replaced them with “state holidays” in 2015.

“The genesis of that state holiday is, they were Confederate Memorial Day, were Robert E. Lee holidays, of course we don’t do that anymore, so we just designate it state holiday,” said Jones.

It’s up to the governor to decide what those two state holidays are. This year Georgia is observing Good Friday and Black Friday. State Senator Harold Jones says the most likely way for Juneteenth to become a state holiday is to pick one of those days.

“So instead of trying to add another holiday, you can actually try to replace a holiday,” he said.

Jones says the Legislature could try to change the code to add an extra holiday but he doesn’t think that will happen.

“Because of the cost factor, I don’t know if we’re gonna pass a bill to create another one, so I think what you’ll see possibly is you keep that state holiday, and then you celebrate maybe for Juneteenth on another date,” he said.

Kemp’s press secretary told us that state holidays for 2022 will be determined in the coming weeks and that decision ultimately lies with him.

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