/Lawmakers consider delaying 2021 session because of COVID-19 pandemic

Lawmakers consider delaying 2021 session because of COVID-19 pandemic

The state Constitution mandates that the Legislature convene the 2021 session by Jan. 5, 2021. There have been discussions about convening the session on that date, as well as addressing time sensitive issues and recessing until later. Sources close to legislative leaders say that a reconvening session could be possible in March. According to sources close to legislative leaders, there has not been a decision on whether the session should be rescheduled. The proposal appears to have been met with strong opposition. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, House Education Chair, said, “I don’t see that we do that, not while schools remain open and teachers are working.” “I believe the Legislature should be working, too.” Philip Gunn, House Speaker, and Lt. Governor. Delbert Hosemann (who preside over the Senate) was not available to comment on Friday’s possible early recess. Recent COVID-19 infection levels in the state have risen to new highs. This has led to many hospitals in the state, including the Jackson area, reaching capacity. The addition of 174 legislators to the mix with all the extra personnel required for a Jackson legislative session could lead to a significant increase in coronavirus infections. Numerous legislators and staff contracted the coronavirus during this year’s session. This included Gunn and Hosemann. “Obviously, there’s a lot of concern about the Jackson ICU bed situation and we wouldn’t want to make that worse,” stated Sen. Scott DeLano (R-Biloxi). “The safety and well-being of our members and the public is our greatest concern and priority.” There will be special safety precautions when the Legislature meets in 2021. The House leadership has already decided to suspend its page program in preparation for the next session. The possibility of a COVID-19 vaccination being made available by moving the bulk of the session to March could help reduce the spread of the virus. It would also give legislators more time for reviewing state tax collections in order to get more information about the revenue available to create a budget for next fiscal year. This fiscal year begins July 1. It is still unclear how the pandemic will affect the economy over the next months, and therefore revenue collection. The coronavirus exploded in March 2020. After that, the Legislature took a lengthy break. However, it remained in session until October to deal with COVID-19 issues. In 2020, the session was set to conclude in May 2020. The session will conclude in April 2021. A two-thirds majority must be reached by each chamber to extend the session beyond its scheduled end date, also known as sine die. A two-thirds vote is required if the session is to be rescheduled for January. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to us today as part of the Spring Member Drive.