State Legislatures Adapting to COVID-19

  • On April 16, 2020

While state legislatures traditionally would be in the heat of their sessions at this point, COVID-19 has understandably caused widespread delays. A few states have adjourned early, some don’t meet in this “off year,” and about half have postponed their sessions until things settle down. The rest have figured out ways to keep operating with social distancing a priority. For example:

  • Vermont committees have been meeting via web-based video conferencing, although their systems got hacked with unfortunate results;
  • Arkansas decided to meet in a nearby sports arena so they could spread out;
  • New York got their budget approved on time and will now convert to remote operating procedures;
  • South Dakota has changed to remote voting; and
  • Utah is in virtual session.

Additionally, Colorado elected officials had been arguing about how much time was left in their session; they eventually agreed they would have 51 days left once they start back up. This may present a problem for the state’s seed law because the agency has been under sunset review this session, which must be approved before June 1. However, options are available to keep the department funded.