Coronavirus concerns lead 11 states to suspend, end work

March 16, 2020

Keith Goble

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Coronavirus concerns have spurred legislatures around the country to make adjustments to legislative business.

As of Monday afternoon there are nine legislatures that have postponed their legislative session for at least one week, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Two other states have one chamber that is taking a break from regular work.

The Maryland General Assembly shut down this week for a minimum of two months. The legislature was scheduled to be in regular session until April 6.

The shutdown marks the first time since the Civil War the legislature has adjourned early.

Out of concern about the novel coronavirus, state lawmakers are wrapping up their work by Wednesday, March 18. At this time, there are plans to hold a special session before June to pass any necessary legislation.

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In Georgia, the Legislature has suspended the regular session indefinitely out of “an abundance of caution” for coronavirus concerns. Instead, a special session was convened on Monday to address efforts to combat COVID-19.

“We look forward to resuming the legislative session and returning to the people’s business,” House Speaker David Ralston said in prepared remarks.

The Maine Legislature is making preparations to wrap up their business for the year on Tuesday – about one month earlier than was scheduled – because of coronavirus concerns.

In a joint statement from legislative leaders on both sides of the aisle, it was announced the Legislature would meet for one day to approve a supplemental budget and pass legislation related to the virus.

Legislatures that include Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Rhode Island and Vermont are taking at least one week off from official business.

Additionally, the Missouri Senate will not return until March 30. The Ohio House will not meet until further notice.

The Iowa General Assembly also is considering a stoppage.

Elsewhere, there are legislatures that have stopped short of closing. Instead, they have taken steps to limit interactions while lawmakers focus their efforts to combat the virus.

Statehouses that include North Carolina and Texas have canceled public hearings. Multiple capitols are asking the public to avoid traveling to their statehouse.

At this time, there are 25 states where no suspension or postponement of the legislative session has been announced.

There are eight legislatures that have already adjourned on their regular schedule: Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.