Alford: The legislative session is fluid if nothing else

    When lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Tuesday to reconvene before once again temporarily adjourning until an unspecified date, Senate President Page Cortez of Lafayette told his colleagues that the regular session has taken on a “fluid nature,” writes Jeremy Alford in his new opinion piece. 

    He added that fiscal estimates have “become more difficult” and urged senators to stop requesting daily updates from staffers on specific subjects.

    “It’s changing so rapidly we can’t say from one day to the next where we are,” Cortez said of the COVID-19 outbreak’s influence on the ongoing session. “An email from last night is no longer relevant by the time we get to noon.”

    House Speaker Clay Schexnayder of Gonzales expressed some of the same uncertainty to representatives. “We’re trying to make the best of a bad situation,” Schexnayder said. Lawmakers should return sometime in May, possibly when coronavirus patients no longer outmatch hospitals, or there’s an acceptable leveling off of cases and deaths.

    Schexnayder described the reconvening of the Legislature as “open-ended,” but the session does have an official end date of June 1, followed by the start of the state’s fiscal year July 1.

    Unlike other public boards and bodies, the House and Senate cannot host meetings via video or teleconferences. “There are a lot of good reasons why we cannot,” Cortez says, referencing constitutional, statute and rule requirements.

    At best, that makes the regular session more fluid than it has ever been. Read Alford’s full column about important benchmarks to track in the coming weeks and what decisions the Louisiana House and Senate need to make.

    Jeremy Alford publishes LaPolitics Weekly, a newsletter on Louisiana politics, at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter, or on Facebook. He can be reached at JJA@LaPolitics.com

     

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