On Monday, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) and Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) announced that the California Legislature will delay their winter session return from January 4th to January 11th.
The decision was largely made due to an increase of COVID-19 cases across the state as well as to keep all legislative members and staff in Sacramento safe.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have enacted safeguards and protocols to keep everyone as safe as possible, and we will modify or enhance those measures if needed,” Senator Atkins said in an e-mailed statement. “California is in the midst of a surge in COVID cases that cuts across all professions and workplaces, socioeconomic status, and communities — we all must continue to do what we can to mitigate the spread of this horrible virus, especially right now, when the holidays are upon us.”
While there are many bills that have been introduced and are currently awaiting committee placement such as bills concerning police minimum age requirements, COVID-19 vaccine prioritization, wealth taxes, and death penalty abolishment, Californians are currently awaiting legislative decisions on more pressing concerns. COVID-19 relief and COVID-19 eviction protections have been among the most concerning for Californians, as an indecision on those issues could lead to a large rise in homelessness, expensive housing, landlord financial troubles, COVID-19 positivity rates and other negative consequences.
“A lot of people have had positive tests,” noted “Dana” a Capitol staffer. “[Senate Secretary Erika] Contreras sent out that memo last week noting the numbers. Nine cases in five. And that’s what spurred that decision. Legislative staff here is already down to a skeleton crew, so those numbers are alarmingly high.
“But it’s not just COVID we’re worried about now. That’s a week off for new bills to go through here. It happened last session a few times because of COVID, and it really messed things up. We still have a backlog of bills that need to be brought back up, not to mention all of the new ones.
“So it is a big health worry for sure, but now it’s also hindering what we can really do or get passed this session. If it happens, we’ll probably see like what we did in August and focus more on COVID-centric bills since that’s the big emergency.”
Earlier this year in July and August, Assembly and Senate sessions were largely abbreviated due to delays stemming from COVID-19 outbreaks in both chambers as well as nearby legislative offices. This caused many bills to be pulled and delayed until the January 2021 session.
While the session is expected to resume in January on the 11th, further outbreaks or a higher COVID-19 positivity percentage may lead to further delays of the session or possible remote legislative meetings.
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