BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY) — Coronavirus or no, the Louisiana Legislature is required by law to pass a balanced budget and make appropriations by June 1. Legislators announced today (March 12) they are creating a contingency plan should a COVID-19 outbreak affect members of the legislature.
To ensure that a budget can be passed, the legislative plan agreed to by the Senate president and House speaker involves an expedited process to allow for quick action on constitutionally mandated instruments if necessary. The legislature plans to file the contingency package next week but remains on schedule to debate the budget and all other bills as they typically have in previous years.
Legislators did not provide details on their contingency plan.
“First and foremost, we are encouraging all legislators, staff, and members of the public to remain calm and not panic, but also be prepared by following CDC guidelines on the virus” said Senate President Page Cortez. “Although we fully expect to proceed normally, we felt it necessary to put a contingency plan in place to ensure that we are meeting our constitutional requirements while also, and more importantly, protecting the health and safety of our members, legislative staff, and all those who visit the capitol.”
“While our first priority is to protect our membership, staff, and all Louisianans, we must be mindful of our constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget,” said House Speaker Clay Schexnayder. “To that effect, we have put together this contingency plan that would allow us to expedite the process in a responsible, efficient manner, if necessary.”
The president and speaker said they have also implemented additional sanitization protocols around the capitol and encourage everyone to take the proactive steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect the health of themselves and those around them.