Legislature to convene second special session
The State Legislature has announced that it will convene the 2020 Second Extraordinary Session starting at 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, that will focus on Hurricane Laura recovery, COVID-19 funding and the state’s unemployment fund.
According to a release from the Louisiana House of Representatives, a majority of the House and the Senate members have authorized the written petition under the state constitution to call itself into special session, which also sets the agenda for the upcoming session.
Lawmakers can file and consider bills on 70 items.
House Speaker Clay Schexnayder states in the release that the special session will focus on three main objectives:
• Hurricane Laura disaster relief and recovery efforts;
• on-going issues with COVID-1, especially relative to funding and the economy; and
• the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund.
“A special session is needed to address unforeseen problems related to the in-person education of our children and their return to extracurricular activities, the survival of our economy and the opening up of business, and the recovery of the areas of our state devastated by Hurricane Laura,” Schexnayder says in the release.
“A significant number of House members have also asked to address the continued proclamations issued by the governor during the pandemic and what many see as an imbalance of power,” adds Schexnayder.
“This special session will not end without a solution to this problem.”
“We will also be working to resolve issues with the Unemployment Trust Fund, which, if left unaddressed, could result in financial turmoil for business owners and program beneficiaries,” said Senate President Page Cortez in a release from the senate.
According to the release, lawmakers are also expected to address a number of local issues that were not finalized during the first two sessions earlier this year.
Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a statement on Monday in response to the legislature’s call for a second special session this year:
“At a time when our state is dealing with the COVID-19 health emergency, hurricanes, and one severe weather event after another, I am concerned that the Legislature has again called themselves into a month-long session with an agenda of 70 items,” Edwards said. “This session will occur at a time when the public will again be restricted in their access to the State Capitol and their ability to give needed public input.
“From the beginning of this emergency, I have relied on public health experts and the White House Coronavirus Task Force to guide Louisiana’s response to this historic emergency. Further, this response has been in line with the measures taken by our neighboring states that have unfortunately also been enormously impacted by COVID-19.
“Put simply, the measures we have taken in Louisiana are working and we are making significant progress. However, to abandon these efforts in defiance of the unanimous advice of the public health experts and the Trump administration would seriously jeopardize the lives of our people and the gains we have made.
“Further, it is important to remember our work in containing COVID-19 is far from done, as Louisiana still has the highest number of per capita infections in the country.
“I am hopeful that the Legislative leadership will significantly narrow the scope and the duration of this session so that they can do the work they deem necessary, while at the same time working in a bipartisan and cooperative manner to address our significant challenges in an honest and transparent manner. Louisianans have come too far to have all of our effective and life-saving work upended.”
The 2020 Second Extraordinary Session will begin on Sept. 28, at 6 p.m. and must adjourn by Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.