Work suspended, ended in 16 state legislatures due to COVID-19
March 17, 2020
Coronavirus concerns have spurred legislatures around the country to make adjustments to legislative business.
As of Tuesday morning there are 13 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.
For the 1st time since the Civil War, the MD General Assembly will adjourn early, ending this Wednesday instead of April 6.
— NCSL (@NCSLorg) March 16, 2020
In Georgia, the Legislature has suspended the regular session indefinitely out of “an abundance of caution.” 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 in Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont are taking at least one week off from official business. Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana and Nebraska legislatures have committed to taking at least a two-week break.
The Hawaii Legislature acted on Monday to recess. Senate President Ronald Kouchi stated the Legislature would “resume the session at a future date.”
“Both chambers have consulted with their colleagues and decided this is the right thing to do in light of the current circumstances. This decision was made out of an abundance of caution and we will resume the session at a future date,” said President Kouchi.
— Hawai’i State Senate (@HawaiiSenate) March 17, 2020
The New Hampshire legislature is suspended until March 20 because of coronavirus concerns.
Additionally, the Missouri Senate will not return until March 30. The Ohio House will not meet until further notice.
The Arizona Legislature also is considering a stoppage because of the coronavirus threat.
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, North Dakota and Texas have cancelled meetings and public hearings. Multiple capitols are asking the public to avoid traveling to their statehouse.
At this time, there are 21 states where no suspension or postponement of the legislative session has been announced.
There are eight legislatures that already adjourned on their regular schedule: Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.