JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Coronavirus concerns leads to the Missouri Senate cancelling next week’s legislative session.
The Senate will be out for at least two weeks because their Spring break is the following week.
The House is in the process of completing its constitutional duty of approving a budget so that work will continue next week.
You have a better chance of seeing a cleaning crew wipe down door handles at the Missouri Capitol than seeing lawmakers in session right now.
The Senate Chamber will sit empty until at least March 30th when lawmakers are scheduled to return from Spring break.
The return date depends on the state of coronavirus concerns at that time.
Senate President Pro-Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, said, “The decision was made from a cautious not a panic perspective.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rodwen, R-Columbia, said, “We come from all over the state as do all of the other people who come here and even to take that a step further you know people who fly in to testify on bills, they are flying in from other states and we have no understanding of where they have come from or the variables around their situation and so our situation is unique.”
The House will continue to work on approving a budget next week.
But House Democrats want the Governor to declare a state of emergency and believe coronavirus concerns should lead to the state dipping into its budget reserve to pay for things such as more testing and temporary hospitals and quarantine facilities.
House Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said, “I think that we should be here working on these things but also if we are going to be here and we are going to continue to legislate we need to be focusing on the emergency that is at hand.”
Speaker Haahr believes the state is well prepared and says the focus for the house right now is to approve a budget.
House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said, “Right now what we are doing is focusing on our constitutional duty of passing a budget next week obviously there’s a lot of concern around the state. We are trying to make sure that court functions of government continue to move.”
The full house will not return here to the Capitol until a budget plan is ready for a vote.
Speaker Haahr expects that to happen before the end of next week.