Republican Jon Burns to be next Georgia House speaker

Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns speaks to House Republicans ahead election of the next House speaker on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

This story was updated Nov. 15 at 11:01 a.m.

Georgia House Majority Leader Jon Burns will become the next speaker of the state House, a powerful position as no legislation can pass the chamber without his approval.

He won a majority of the votes of 97 state House Republicans who gathered in the House Chamber on Monday. He replaces Speaker David Ralston, who is stepping down from leadership due to health reasons.

Burns has been majority leader since 2015 and has served in the state House since 2005, representing a district in East Georgia between Augusta and Savannah.

His election likely represents a continuation of Ralston’s measured and sometimes bipartisan approach to running the state House.

Burns spoke to reporters after the State House GOP elections.

Speaker Ralston was very much on the mind of Jon Burns, both personally and politically.

“I want to acknowledge that I stand here today to carry on the steady leadership and positive, positive vision of my friend, Speaker David Ralston. I join without Georgians and continuing to send him and his wife, Sheree. Our prayers for his health.”

Burns defeated state Rep. Barry Fleming, who was one of the lead authors of Senate Bill 202, the Republican-led overhaul of Georgia’s elections and voting law.

The proceedings Monday were open to the public, but voting was a secret ballot. Republican representatives voted on paper ballots that were dropped into buckets around the chamber.

State House Republicans also renominated Jan Jones to be Speaker Pro-Tempore, which is the second-ranking member of the House.

Burns is being replaced as Majority Leader by Gwinnett County State Representative Chuck Efstration.

Also elected today were Rep. James Burchett as Majority Whip, Rep. Bruce Williamson as Caucus Chair, Rep. Houston Gaines as Caucus Vice-Chair and Rep. Ginny Ehrhart as Caucus Secretary/Treasurer.

The selections of Burns and Jones are expected to be finalized when the General Assembly convenes January 9th.

Republicans are expected to begin the session with 101 House members, which is the smallest GOP majority since 2005, when Republicans took over the state House.

State House Democrats are scheduled to meet Nov. 22 to pick their leaders.