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Louisiana Legislative Report: Navigating the Coronavirus

March 20, 2020

As of March 16, the Louisiana Legislature is currently in recess until March 31, out of concern for the spread of COVD-19. March 31 also marks the last day to introduce late-filed bills for the 2020 session. The rumor is that many legislators are saving their most controversial bills for this late filing deadline.

Committees look to hit the ground running after the recess. Committee meetings have already been scheduled with robust agendas for the week of the 31. This election cycle was centered around one topic, tort reform. Many pro-tort reform legislators and business groups are concerned that the delay in the legislative process may have a cooling effect on the movement for legal reform. The main and only requirement for the legislature is to pass a budget for this fiscal year by July 1. The way this scenario is playing out, especially with an increase in coronavirus cases, it seems very likely that a special session will be in order.

Since our last report, Louisiana has seen a drastic increase in COVID-19 cases. On Monday, Louisiana had 136 confirmed cases; as of 9:30 a.m., March 20, 2020, we are up to 479. The overwhelming majority of cases center in the New Orleans area. The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has put together a webpage dedicated to tracking cases of coronavirus.

Governor Edwards has done an outstanding job of being a steady hand for the state in this time of uncertainty and of great concern. On March 19, the Governor signed an update to his Public Health Emergency declaration to waive some education requirements in the law and also suspended some laboratory requirements to speed the process of coronavirus testing. Read the full text of the updated declaration.