Shortly after both houses of the California legislature voted on and passed over $1 billion of bills and measures to thwart the coronavirus and economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus in the state on Tuesday, the legislature voted to suspend the current session for a month.
Earlier this week, many precautionary measures were being taken by those in the Assembly and House. Hand sanitizer became the norm while handshaking generally became non-existent. Democrats even allowed anyone 65 or older to stay home, citing that any bills or measures needing a vote would most likely be unanimous anyway, with a still large Democratic majority also guaranteeing passage.
Both the Assembly and the Senate eventually voted unanimously to install a recess from March 20th to April 13th due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, although the Senate debated for hours over wanting a recess indefinitely prior to agreeing to the April 13th date.
“Responding to the coronavirus is one of the biggest challenges to face the California Legislature in modern times,” noted Senator Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). “The responsible thing for us to do is flatten the curve, reduce transmission, keep our health care system above water. That is the intent of the action we are taking.”
Those in the Assembly offered similar statements.
“The passage of this motion gives me no pleasure, but it’s necessary,” noted Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood). “It’s a request to step away from our desks much earlier than we’d like. The demands of public health require it.”
Many lawmakers also took to Twitter before leaving, informing citizens of coronavirus measures just installed, such as Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) letting people know about DMV changes.
In order to cut down on the number of people waiting at DMV offices during the #COVID19 outbreak, the DMV is granting residents a 60-day reprieve on tasks that must be done in person, like DL renewals for seniors and vision testing. #ad35 https://t.co/aH1W4OlbXt
— Jordan Cunningham (@Cunning_Jordan) March 17, 2020
The staffs of lawmakers were also informed that they could now work from home rather than in the Capitol building or other offices where people generally congregated,
“We were told that coronavirus could easily spread here as many people come in and out of the building daily,” said “Dana,” who works in the building. “Right now a lot of us are figuring out how much we can do through the computer and on the phone. There’s been talk of phone number rerouting, but nothing really firm yet.’
‘This has never happened on this sort of scale here, so we’re all just scrambling to make sure that everyone can do it safely from home.”
An emergency session could still be called in case of any immediate coronavirus need should it pop up. Governor Gavin Newsom may also sign executive orders to get certain actions done during the crisis without the needed of a vote from the Assembly or Senate.