Gov. Brian Kemp to drop lawsuit over Atlanta mask mandate

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ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp says he’s dropping a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta in a dispute over the city’s requirement to wear masks in public and other restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kemp had sued Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council in July.

The Republican governor argued local leaders cannot impose measures that are more or less restrictive than those in his executive orders.

On Thursday, Kemp said the decision to drop the lawsuit comes as negotiations ordered by a judge between Kemp and Bottoms broke down.

Gov. Kemp’s office issued the following statement:

“I sued the City of Atlanta to immediately stop the shuttering of local businesses and protect local workers from economic instability. For weeks, we have worked in good faith with Mayor Bottoms, and she agreed to abandon the city’s Phase One roll-back plan, which included business closures and a shelter in place order. Unfortunately, the Mayor has made it clear that she will not agree to a settlement that safeguards the rights of private property owners in Georgia. Given this stalemate in negotiations, we will address this very issue in the next Executive Order. We will continue to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians.”

In light of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ concession regarding the city’s Phase One roll-back plan and following her refusal in mediation to further negotiate a compromise, the Attorney General’s Office has filed to withdraw our pending lawsuit. The Governor’s current Executive Order expires this Saturday, August 15, at which time he will issue a new order with relevant language.