Utah Legislature convenes for virtual special session to address coronavirus-related issues

Politics

Legislature will convene in its first-ever virtual session

FILE – In this Jan. 27, 2020, file photo, the Utah Senate floor is viewed during the Utah legislative session in Salt Lake City. The Utah Legislature is wrapping up its work for the year, capping off a session that saw major changes to the state’s polygamy statute, a revision of a voter-approved redistricting law and a compromise on education funding. The 45-day meeting is ending in the shadow of the new coronavirus, which caused widespread cancellations but didn’t cause major disruptions in legislative business. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) The Utah Legislature is using its emergency powers to convene a special session to address issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislative leaders say COVID-19 is impacting education, healthcare systems, the economy, Utah’s business community, individuals and families throughout the state in unprecedented ways.

RELATED: Speaker Brad Wilson previews the upcoming special session to address COVID-19

As the coronavirus first began to spread in the United States during the 2020 General Session, legislative leadership anticipated the possibility of an epidemic creating a need to convene in a virtual special session. With this in mind, the Utah Legislature passed a law that allows the Legislature to conduct remote electronic meetings as needed under “extraordinary conditions.”

State lawmakers will gather for their first-ever virtual session on April 16 to discuss formally accepting federal emergency funding, extending the deadline for submitting state income taxes to July 15, 2020, ensuring access to medication, and preparing for the June primary election.

RELATED: The IUP panel on stay at home orders, election accommodations

While special legislative sessions in Utah typically last one day, this special session may last up to 10 days. Legislative leaders say between now and next January’s general session, it may be necessary for the Utah Legislature to convene multiple times remotely. Decisions about additional special sessions will be made in close collaboration with the executive branch and in consultation with health experts who are monitoring the trajectory of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Proposed legislation will be made publicly available online in advance. Utahns are encouraged to participate by submitting inquiries and feedback directly to their legislators on the Senate and House websites. Citizens can also comment on specific legislation at le.utah.gov.

To watch visit the le.utah.gov website, click on the Legislators tab. Then select Sessions and 2020 Third Session. From there hit reading calendar and select the + (plus) option on the Video title under House.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...