Legislators seek reins in Louisiana’s COVID-19 response

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BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Louisiana lawmakers will debate a bundle of bills flexing legislative muscle over Gov. John Bel Edwards’ COVID-19 executive orders Wednesday.

A House governmental affairs panel has eight bills on the day’s agenda. They include items that would craft a “council of state” to oversee emergency declarations, limit emergency orders to 30 days unless legislators vote to extend them, and let lawmakers reject any part of a governor’s declaration.

Another bill would block the state from subjecting restaurants and bars to separate emergency restrictions. State Rep. Jerome Zeringue’s (R-Houma) legislation comes as bars and restaurants face different limits on occupancy and operation.

The bills’ discussions follow months of disagreement between Edwards, a Democrat, and the Republican-led Legislature. The governor has argued his emergency declarations — including mask mandates and occupancy limits — mirror federal guidance against the coronavirus pandemic. GOP leaders maintain the measures have hurt the state’s economy.

The House committee will discuss the bills Wednesday, with votes expected Thursday.

Lawmakers must conclude their special legislative session, which began Monday evening, by Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.

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