Alabama Senate releases meeting plan for remainder of 2020 regular session
MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate now has a framework for finishing the legislature’s 2020 regular session.
To this point, the Senate has not missed any legislative days due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as the chamber was already scheduled for a two-week spring break that is set to end this coming Tuesday.
Yellowhammer News on Thursday afternoon obtained a memo to all senators that advised the chamber is still set to meet as scheduled on Tuesday, March 31.
However, that is intended primarily as an organizational meeting in which the Senate will discuss the weeks ahead. Strict social distancing protocols will be in place for the meeting, and senators in at-risk categories are recommended not to attend.
“As leaders, it is imperative that we demonstrate that the business of this state carries on in an orderly and systematic fashion while adhering to the recommendations of our public health officials,” the memo stated.
The memo outlined that chamber leadership currently intends for the Senate to adjourn after Tuesday until “possibly” April 28.
At that time, the hope is that the coronavirus curve will have been flattened so the chamber can get back to work and finish out the regular session by passing important legislation. May 19 is the last possible day of the 2020 regular session, per state law. The memo called for the Senate working from April 28-May 18; they would have a maximum of 15 legislative days to burn in that timeframe.
This is a preliminary plan subject to change as needed for health and safety reasons.
If the pandemic’s status is not conducive to the Senate returning to work on April 28, a later date certain could be chosen in its stead before May 19. If the legislature does not pass the state’s two budgets in the regular session, a special session would be an absolute necessity before the end of the fiscal year.
The memo further stressed that the budgets are the priorities in the Senate’s preliminary plan for the remainder of the regular session, along with “other bills deemed necessary.”
The Alabama House is also set to return to the statehouse on Tuesday, March 31, for one day. The lower chamber has not yet announced how it will proceed with the rest of the regular session, however a plan similar to the Senate’s plan is ultimately expected from the House.
Read the full Senate memo here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn