BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — State lawmakers say the coronavirus has put the 2020 Alabama legislative session on pause, and it may stay that way until the end of the year.
Lawmakers plan to pass a joint rule Tuesday that would adjourn the legislative session until the end of April. The rule would allow them to continue the session without meeting. When legislators meet to vote, they’ll be practicing social distancing.
“It’s going to be a logistical nightmare. Department of public health is going to test each one of us for fevers when we go in. We have hand sanitizers, cleaning materials. So this is a new world for all of us,” Sen. Cam Ward said.
The legislative session is not mandatory and legislators who feel attending may put their health at risk are encouraged to stay home. Rep. Neil Rafferty said many of his colleagues will likely take that precaution.
“I do yes, particularly because we have some older members that might be at a higher risk category of complications with COVID-19,” Rafferty said.
Gov. Kay Ivey is asking all residents to follow state and federal mandates to stop the spread. “So now, and for the foreseeable future, please consider staying safe at home,” Ivey said.
Because of these guidelines, state lawmakers say they likely won’t be able to pass non-emergent bills this year.
“Most likely, this pandemic has put an end to any legislative agenda outside of what we call the highly important bills until next year,” Ward said.
“It has put an end to it, for right now. To where we can’t introduce, pass, or debate any legislation,” Rafferty said.
The last day lawmakers can meet in a legislative session is May 18. Ivey would then need to call a special session for legislators to introduce and pass bills in which they are unable to meet before their deadline.
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