Daily coronavirus update: March 27, 2020

As part of Ballotpedia’s coverage on the coronavirus pandemic, we are compiling a daily summary of major changes in the world of politics, government, and elections happening each day. Here is the summary of changes for March 27, 2020.
Federal responses
  • President Donald Trump (R) signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law. The U.S. House approved the relief package earlier in the day by a voice vote. The legislation includes $2 trillion in relief funds, and a $1,200 payment to individuals making less than $75,000 per year.
  • Trump announced that he would use the Defense Production Act to compel General Motors to produce ventilators.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Fifteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Six states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Six states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Twelve states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in nine states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • Montana – Gov. Steve Bullock (D) issued a directive authorizing counties to conduct upcoming elections entirely by mail.
  • Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed HB 197 into law, rescheduling the state’s primary election for April 28.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed a bill into law postponing the state’s primary election to June 2. It was originally scheduled for April 28.
  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed an executive order authorizing candidates and/or their campaigns to send petition sheets to voters electronically. The order also authorized voters to return signed petition sheets electronically or by mail.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia has tracked 14 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  • Arizona – The campaign for an initiative to establish a right to know the original source of campaign media spending suspended its signature drive. At least two other previously active Arizona initiative petition drives have suspended signature gathering as well: one concerning voting and campaign finance policies, and one to enact hospital worker minimum wage and insurance regulations.
  • Oklahoma – The Oklahoma Secretary of State officially paused the signature gathering window for initiative petitions until the governor lifts the state’s emergency declaration.
  • Oregon –  The campaign for an initiative to decriminalize drugs and establish an addiction treatment program suspended in-person signature gathering efforts.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 261 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Thirty-one significant bills have been enacted into law, about 12 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-three state legislatures suspended their sessions. Two of those (New York and Vermont) have since reopened.
  • Thirteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year.
  • Seven state legislatures are in regular session. One state (Arkansas) is in a special session.
  • One state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.
Details:
  • Arkansas – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) issued a proclamation convening a special session of the state legislature to begin March 26 and continuing indefinitely.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
Details:
  • Wyoming – Effective March 23, the Wyoming Supreme Court suspended in-person proceedings through at least April 10, except in certain specified instances. The court encouraged judges to use video or telephone when possible, and to reschedule civil trials and criminal trials “subject to the requirement that defendants be provided speedy trials as required by law.”
  • Idaho  – The Idaho Supreme Court ordered only emergency hearings and proceedings be conducted, suspended civil trials, and delayed criminal trials at least 30 days from their original start date.
  • Kentucky – The Kentucky Supreme Court extended their original order limiting in-person court proceedings through April 24.
  • Michigan – In a joint statement by Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget McCormack and the Executive Director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association, judges, law enforcement, and prosecutors are encouraged to coordinate the expanded use of appearance citations and summons, when appropriate and legally permissible, rather than custodial arrests and arrest warrants to proactively reduce the risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Maine – The Maine Supreme Court has suspended all grand and petit jury proceedings for the months of April and May.
  • Mississippi – The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered the suspension of a criminal procedure rule that prohibited the use of interactive equipment for probation violation hearings and felony sentencing.
State stay-at-home orders
Overview to date:
  • So far, 23 states issued statewide stay-at-home orders. Five of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 18 announced end dates.
Details:
  • Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) issued a safer at home order, effective March 25 to April 15. Schools were already closed through the end of the academic year so they were not impacted by this order.
School closures
Overview to date:
  • Forty-seven states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 47 states served 49.6 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 98% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
  • Five states closed schools for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
Details:
  • Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey (R) announced that schools statewide would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
  • New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC)
Federal officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL)
  • Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-TX)
Federal officials who tested negative for coronavirus
  • Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA)
State officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Matthew Gambill (R-GA)
  • State Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-MI)
  • State Sen. Bruce Thompson (R-GA)
State officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • All 56 members of the Georgia State Senate.



About the author

Kelly Caldwell

Kelly Caldwell is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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