How have state legislatures responded to the COVID-19 pandemic?

State lawmakers have responded to the coronavirus pandemic in at least two ways: by adjusting legislative session dates and by passing laws intended to deal with the crisis.

Twenty-five state legislatures suspended their sessions, and 15 of them have either already resumed their sessions or are scheduled to do so sometime this month. California and Tennessee lawmakers are expected to reconvene on May 4 and June 1, respectively. The remaining eight legislatures have suspended their sessions indefinitely.

Eighteen legislatures have either adjourned or are not scheduled to be in regular session this year. Four state legislatures are in regular session. Two state legislatures (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) are in special sessions. And one state (Minnesota) has partially suspended legislative activity.

State lawmakers have introduced 388 bills related to the pandemic. Lawmakers in New York, Ohio, and New Jersey have introduced 42, 41, and 38 relevant bills, respectively. Taken together, the bills introduced in these three states account for 31 percent of the total number of bills introduced nationwide.

Setting aside ceremonial resolutions and bills modifying the conduct of legislative business, 72 pieces of significant legislation have been enacted. This accounts for approximately 19 percent of the total number of bills that have been introduced.

Additional Reading:
State laws in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, 2020