COVID-19 Alters State Legislative Processes

Responses to the pandemic vary, putting lawmaking on hold in many regions
Photograph: Shutterstock

LAKEVILLE, Minn. — The coronavirus outbreak has affected all parts of society. Among its effects are those on state legislative sessions. Several legislatures have adjourned for the year, but lawmakers could return for a special or extraordinary session to address a particular issue, such as the coronavirus. As of this writing, only seven legislatures are in regular session, and those legislatures are in large part focusing on “must-pass” bills, such as their budgets, budgetary shortfalls and public health and economic effects from the virus.

Many legislatures that have not yet adjourned for the year have decided to go into recess. This means these legislatures will not hold hearings, so bills will not move. Some legislatures have also changed their rules to allow for teleconferencing or other electronic methods of acting in case they are unable to return from recess or continue their session in a normal way because of the virus.

Below is a state-by-state list of each legislature’s status, current as of April 1, 2020, and subject to change given the fluid nature of the situation. This list will give retailers an idea of when they may see any legislative activity on items of interest:

  • Alabama: Recessed until April 28
  • Alaska: Recessed indefinitely
  • Arizona: Recessed until April 13
  • Arkansas: Regular session to convene April 8
  • California: Recessed until April 13
  • Colorado: Senate recessed indefinitely; House in limited session April 2
  • Connecticut: Recessed until April 12
  • Delaware: Recessed indefinitely
  • Florida: Adjourned
  • Georgia: Recessed indefinitely
  • Hawaii: Recessed indefinitely
  • Idaho: Adjourned
  • Illinois: Recessed until April 21
  • Indiana: Adjourned
  • Iowa: Recessed until April 15
  • Kansas: Recessed until April 27
  • Kentucky: Regular session; adjournment expected April 1
  • Louisiana: Recessed indefinitely
  • Maine: Adjourned
  • Maryland: Adjourned
  • Massachusetts: Regular session
  • Michigan: Regular session
  • Minnesota: Recessed until April 14
  • Mississippi: Regular session
  • Missouri: Recessed until April 3
  • Montana: No session
  • Nebraska: Recessed indefinitely
  • Nevada: No session
  • New Hampshire: Recessed until May 4
  • New Jersey: Recessed until May 4
  • New Mexico: Adjourned
  • New York: Regular session
  • North Carolina: Regular session to convene May 28
  • North Dakota: No session
  • Ohio: Regular session
  • Oklahoma: Recessed until April 3
  • Oregon: Adjourned
  • Pennsylvania: Recessed until April 6
  • Rhode Island: Recessed until April 7
  • South Carolina: Recessed indefinitely
  • South Dakota: Adjourned
  • Tennessee: Recessed until June 1
  • Texas: No session
  • Utah: Adjourned
  • Vermont: Regular session
  • Virginia: Adjourned
  • Washington: Adjourned
  • West Virginia: Adjourned
  • Wisconsin: Recessed indefinitely
  • Wyoming: Adjourned

Thomas Briant is the executive director of NATO, a tobacco retailing association based in Lakeville, Minn. Reach him at info@natocentral.org.

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