State legislative session continues in the face of COVID-19

Posted on: 3/20/20

As of last week, there are 1,141 bills still alive that are being assigned to committees in the House and Senate after crossing over from their respective chamber.

This week, lawmakers took unprecedented steps to address governance as the state responds to COVID-19.

With the governor declaring a State of Emergency on Sunday evening, state legislative leaders worked quickly to pass legislation that would allow them to continue to hold session while protecting the public. Until further notice, only elected officials, essential Capitol staff, certain state employees and credentialed press will be allowed in the building.

In the House, lawmakers amended the rules that govern the chamber to allow House members to assign their votes to be cast by proxy through designees (HR 1032). A related resolution, HR 1033, declared an emergency in the House and invoked the new rule. Another measure, SB 661, amends state law to allow for virtual meetings of public bodies, such as boards and commissions, until Nov. 15, 2020 or the State of Emergency is terminated. In addition, SCR 8 removes all remaining legislative deadlines, except for Sine Die on May 29. Constitutionally, the Legislature must pass a budget and dispense with executive nominations by 5 p.m. on May 29.

Given the fluidity of the moment, we expect to see many measures go by the wayside in order to take up measures that directly impact the state’s COVID-19 response. Despite this unorthodox legislative environment, we are monitoring all relevant pieces of legislation to ensure our industry is being consulted and heard. (Scott Tohlen)