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California’s legislative leaders are asking the state’s Judicial Council for more time before renter evictions resume during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying they are facing “an impossible decision” between rushing legislation and leaving millions of tenants unprotected.

Most evictions in the state were suspended in April after California courts stopped processing nearly all cases. Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the court system the power to stop evictions in an emergency order in late March, intended to allow “maximum flexibility” in responding to the pandemic. At the time, the Legislature was on an extended break to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the state Capitol.

Now, with the state Legislature back in session and facing decisions on hundreds of bills before adjourning on Aug. 31, the Judicial Council, which oversees the state’s court system, could lift the suspension on evictions as early as Aug. 14. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who leads the Judicial Council, said the decision should fall on the Legislature and the governor.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said that timeline would create two-and-a-half weeks of “chaos” if evictions resume amid the pandemic.

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