TagCoronavirus

Ballotpedia stories covering coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020.

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.


Daily coronavirus update: March 26, 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 26, 2020.
Federal responses
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would move to approve the third coronavirus relief package on Friday. The U.S. Senate passed the legislation by a 96-0 vote on Wednesday night. The legislation includes $1,200 in direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 annually.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Fourteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Six states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Eleven states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in nine states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • The Indiana Election Commission authorized the temporary suspension of the state’s statutory absentee voting eligibility requirements, allowing all voters to cast their ballots by mail in the June 2 primary election.
  • On Wednesday, Ohio lawmakers unanimously approved legislation extending mail-in voting in the state’s primary election to April 28 and canceling in-person voting entirely. The governor indicated he intends to sign the bill into law. Ohio’s primary was originally scheduled for March 17.
  • Also on Wednesday, Pennsylvania lawmakers unanimously approved a bill postponing the state’s primary election, originally scheduled for April 28, to June 2. The governor said he intends to sign the bill.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked 10 statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Three states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  • Oregon – Henry Wessinger, who filed an initiative petition on behalf of State of Safety Action, announced that the campaign would not circulate its initiative petition targeting the 2020 ballot due to the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative would have provided regulations regarding firearms and firearm storage.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 253 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-nine significant bills have been enacted into law, about 11 percent of the total number that has been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-three state legislatures suspended their sessions.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Four states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • The Connecticut State Legislature extended its suspension, originally set to expire at the end of this month, to April 13.
  • The Minnesota State Legislature reconvened its session on March 26. The session was previously suspended through April 14.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Maryland Court of Appeals extended its previous March 13 order restricting in-person proceedings and jury trials through May 1.
  • The Tennessee Supreme Court extended its original March 14 order through April 30. They further ordered local presiding judges to develop a written plan to address issues regarding the incarceration of nonviolent offenders to reduce the jail population by March 30.
  • The Vermont Supreme Court extended restrictions for public access to court proceedings.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 22 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 16 announced end dates.
Details:
  • Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 26 to April 11. This does not affect the statewide school closure, which lasts through April 17.
  • Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 27 to April 10. The statewide school closure, initially scheduled to end March 27, was extended.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 27 to May 4. The statewide school closure, initially scheduled to end April 3, was extended.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Georgia – Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended through April 24.
  • Massachusetts – Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end April 6, was extended through May 4.
  • Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 27, was extended through May 1.
  • New Hampshire – Gov. Chris Sununu (R) issued a stay-at-home order, extending the statewide school closure through May 1. Prior to the order, schools were scheduled to reopen on April 6.
  • The Oklahoma Department of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. It became the third state to close schools for the rest of the year.
  • West Virginia – Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that all schools would remain closed through April 20. The school closure was initially announced to be indefinite.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians identified by Ballotpedia in the last 24 hours
Federal officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA)
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM)
  • Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY)
State officials who tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Michael Day (D-MA)
  • State Rep. Clinton Calabrese (D-NJ)
  • State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick (R-GA)
State officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • State Sen. William Ligon (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Frank Ginn (R-GA)
  • State Sen. Carden Summers (R-GA)
Local officials who self-quarantined for coronavirus
  • Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn (D-CA)


Delaware becomes latest state to postpone elections in response to coronavirus outbreak

On March 24, Delaware postponed its presidential preference primary election to June 2. It was originally scheduled to take place on April 28.

Delaware is the latest state to postpone elections in response to the coronavirus outbreak. To date, the following 10 states and one territory have postponed statewide primary elections:

  • Alaska: In-person voting in Democratic presidential preference primary canceled; vote-by-mail deadline extended to April 10
  • Connecticut: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Delaware: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2
  • Georgia: Presidential preference primary postponed to May 19
  • Indiana: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Kentucky: Primary postponed to June 23
  • Louisiana: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 20
  • Maryland: Primary postponed to June 2
  • Ohio: In-person primary voting postponed to June 2
  • Puerto Rico: Democratic presidential preference primary postponed to April 26
  • Rhode Island: Presidential preference primary postponed to June 2

Another four states have postponed primary runoffs in congressional contests:

  • Alabama: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14
  • Mississippi: Republican primary runoff election for the state’s 2nd Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • North Carolina: Republican primary runoff for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District postponed to June 23
  • Texas: Primary runoff elections postponed to July 14


Daily coronavirus update: March 25, 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 25, 2020.
Federal responses
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said they reached an agreement on the third coronavirus relief bill, though no vote took place.
  • “At last we have a deal. … The Senate has reached a bipartisan agreement,” McConnell said on the Senate floor at 1:30 a.m.
  • “This bill is far from perfect, but we believe the legislation has been improved significantly to warrant its quick consideration and passage,” Schumer said.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Fourteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Six states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Ten states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in nine states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • The Democratic Party of Alaska canceled in-person voting in its presidential preference primary, originally scheduled for April 4, opting instead to conduct all voting by mail. The vote-by-mail deadline was extended to April 10.
  • Delaware postponed its presidential preference primary election, originally scheduled for April 28, to June 2. Delaware also postponed several local-level elections and expanded its definition of sick or physically disabled for the purposes of determining absentee voter eligibility.
  • Iowa’s secretary of state announced absentee voting in the June 2 primary election would open on April 23, 40 days before the primary election, an extension over the period required by state statutes. The secretary of state also announced the postponement of three special municipal elections to July 7.
  • Michigan’s secretary of state announced that the state would mail absentee ballot applications to all voters in municipal elections scheduled for May 5.
  • Nevada’s secretary of state announced plans to conduct all voting in the June 9 primary election by mail.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked ten statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
  • Two states changed ballot measure procedures.
Details:
  • Michigan – Fair Tax Michigan announced it was suspending efforts to place an initiative to establish graduated income tax rates on the ballot for November 3, 2020. Instead, Fair Tax Michigan will aim to place the initiative on the ballot for 2022.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 242 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-eight significant bills have been enacted into law, roughly 12 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-three state legislatures suspended their sessions.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Three states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • The Arizona State Legislature suspended its session, effective March 24 through April 13.
  • The Oklahoma State Legislature suspended its session, effective March 23 through March 27.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Alaska Supreme Court suspended all trial court proceedings and civil marriage ceremonies through May 1, except priority hearings. The court further ordered that all civil and criminal proceedings be held via telephone or video conference.
  • The California Supreme Court suspended all jury trials for the next 60 days. The court stated that trials could be conducted earlier if good cause is shown or through video or teleconference.
  • The Florida Supreme Court extended their March 13 order suspending all face-to-face legal proceedings in the state through April 17.
  • The Idaho Supreme Court suspended civil trials until further notice and criminal trials through April 30.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 19 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 13 announced end dates.
Details:
  • Vermont – Gov. Phil Scott (R) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 25 to April 15. The order did not explicitly mention schools, which are closed statewide until April 6.
  • Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) issued a stay-at-home order, effective from March 25 to April 15. Schools in the state were already scheduled to remain closed until April 20.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Maryland – State Superintendent Karen Salmon announced the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 27, was extended through April 24.
  • Montana – Gov. Steve Bullock (D) announced the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 27, was extended through April 10.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials who entered quarantine
  • Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Federal officials who tested negative
  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham
  • Rep. Andrew Kim (D-NJ)
  • Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX)
State officials who tested positive
  • State Sen. Paul Rosino (R-OK)
  • State Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OK)
  • State Sen. Lester Jackson (D-GA)
State officials who entered quarantine
  • State Rep. Angelika Kausche (D-GA)
State officials who tested negative
  • State Rep. Holly Schepisi (R-NJ)


FDA to implement coronavirus guidance without public comment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency would implement coronavirus guidance documents without first holding comment periods to solicit public feedback. The agency stated that it would not be feasible or appropriate to review public comments before implementing coronavirus guidance documents.

Guidance documents, which advise interested parties about how agencies implement regulations, are exempt from the procedural requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), including public comment periods. However, the FDA encourages members of the public to provide feedback on its draft guidance documents. The agency’s internal Good Guidance Practices regulation requires the FDA to hold comment periods prior to implementing guidance documents that put forth new statutory or regulatory interpretations, make significant changes to policy interpretations, feature complex scientific subject matter, or involve controversial issues.

The FDA stated that it would continue to hold public comment periods on the coronavirus guidance documents and retroactively revise guidance as needed based on public feedback. The agency has issued coronavirus-related guidance documents in recent weeks, including guidance on the production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help boost supply, guidance on conducting clinical trials for medical products during the coronavirus outbreak, and guidance on diagnostic coronavirus tests for clinical laboratories and commercial manufacturers.

Additional reading:


Coronavirus daily update: March 24, 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 24, 2020.
Federal responses
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it would officially use the Defense Production Act to acquire 60,000 coronavirus testing kits.
Election changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirteen states and one territory changed state-level primary or general election dates. Four states changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Five states adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Six states implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in seven states made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • Georgia’s secretary of state announced that election officials would mail absentee ballot request forms to all active voters for the May 19 primary election.
  • Illinois exempted candidates for state-level office from filing statements of economic interests for the duration of the governor’s disaster proclamation period and for 30 days thereafter.
  • Massachusetts postponed four special state legislative elections, originally scheduled for March 31: Senate 2nd Hampden and Hampshire District and Senate Plymouth and Barnstable District were postponed to May 19; House 3rd Bristol District and House 37th Middlesex District were postponed to June 2.
  • Texas’ secretary of state extended the petition deadline for independent candidates for non-presidential office to August 13.
Ballot measure changes
Overview to date:
  • Ballotpedia tracked nine statewide initiative petition drives that suspended signature gathering.
State legislative responses
Overview to date:
  • To date, 222 bills related to the coronavirus pandemic have been introduced in state legislatures.
  • Twenty-seven significant bills have been enacted into law, 12 percent of the total number that have been introduced. This total omits ceremonial resolutions and legislation providing for procedural changes to legislative business. For a complete list of enacted legislation, see here.
State legislative session changes
Overview to date:
  • Twenty-one state legislatures suspended sessions in at least one chamber.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) adjourned early.
  • Five states implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • Alabama’s House of Representatives announced a partial suspension of legislative activity, canceling all meetings scheduled for March 25. The House was scheduled to meet on March 26, but a quorum was not expected.
  • Minnesota’s state legislature suspended legislative business until April 14.
  • South Carolina’s state legislature suspended its session, effective this week and continuing indefinitely.
  • Tennessee’s state legislature suspended its session until June 1.
State court changes
Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state had no change to their court schedule.
Details:
  • The Louisiana State Supreme Court instructed all courts to limit access to courtrooms and other spaces to the maximum number of people allowed per guidelines set by the CDC, President Donald Trump, and Gov. John Bel Edwards. They further ordered that all essential court functions be conducted through video or telephone whenever possible.
  • The New Jersey Supreme Court issued an order that will suspend or commute county jail sentences for low-risk inmates due to the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court ordered all judges to conduct civil and criminal proceedings by video and teleconference, except in cases where an emergency in-person appearance is required.
State shutdowns
Overview to date:
  • So far, 17 of the 50 states have issued statewide shutdown orders. Six of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 11 have announced end dates.
Details:
  • Hawaii – Gov. David Ige (D) issued a stay-at-home order from March 25 through April 30. Local news reports said that no decision had been made yet on schools, although they are scheduled to open April 7, and the governor sees education as essential according to reports.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) issued a stay-at-home order for seven counties, which includes some of the states largest. Residents of Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Monroe, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties were ordered to stay home from March 23 to April 6.
School closures
Overview to date
  • 46 of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 46 states served 48.7 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 96.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Idaho – The Idaho State Department of Education ordered schools statewide to close to students from March 24 to April 20. This made Idaho the 46th state to order a statewide school closure.
  • Pennsylvania – Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to April 10.
  • South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to April 30.
  • Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert (R) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 31, was extended to May 1.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians
Federal officials and noteworthy figures who tested negative
  • First lady Melania Trump
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-CO)
Here is a list of political figures not detailed in this project, due to the scope of our coverage, that did self-quarantine or test for the virus:
  • Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Mayor John Cruikshank tested positive.
  • Snoqualmie, Washington, Mayor Matt Larson tested positive.
  • Grovetown, Georgia, Mayor Gary Jones entered a self-quarantine.


States consider legislation in response to the coronavirus pandemic

In recent days, state lawmakers nationwide have taken action on legislation in response to the coronavirus outbreak. With the help of BillTrack50, we are compiling information on all of that legislation.

As of March 23, 2020, legislatures in 29 states and Washington, D.C., had taken up at least 184 bills related to COVID-19. Lawmakers in New Jersey had taken up 30 relevant bills, more than any other state and 16 percent of the nationwide total.

Of the 184 introduced bills, 40 (or 22 percent) had been enacted into law. New Jersey had enacted seven related bills, more than any other state and 18 percent of the nationwide total.

The following states and jurisdictions had enacted legislation related to the outbreak (the number of enacted bills is listed parenthetically): Alaska (1), Alabama (1), California (2), Florida (1), Hawaii (4), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (3), Maine (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (2), New Jersey (7), New York (2), Oklahoma (2), Pennsylvania (1), Rhode Island (3), South Carolina (1), Washington (3), and Washington, D.C. (1).


Majority of states have suspended certain court operations and jury trials

On March 22, the West Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency and suspended jury trials and all in-person proceedings, with a few exceptions, through April 10, 2020.

West Virginia joined the majority of states whose judicial branches have decided to suspend certain court operations and jury trials due to the coronavirus pandemic. Through March 23, 2020, 33 states had suspended in-person proceedings on a statewide level, including West Virginia, Colorado and Connecticut.

Sixteen states, including Georgia and South Carolina, empowered judges to decide how to handle courtroom restrictions on the local level. In Nevada, while there are no statewide restrictions, courthouses in Carson City and Las Vegas are limiting public access in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

One state, Wyoming, had not issued any orders on the state or local level due to coronavirus.



Virginia closes schools for the remainder of the school year

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that all schools statewide would remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus outbreak. This was an extension of a previous order on March 13 when Northam ordered all schools to close from March 16 to March 27.

Virginia became the second state to end its school year amid the coronavirus outbreak. Kansas ended its school year on March 17 under an executive order from Gov. Laura Kelly (D).

So far across the country, 45 states have ordered a statewide school closure in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Schools in those states served 48.4 million public school students in the 2016-2017 academic year, of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.



Daily coronavirus update: March 23, 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 23, 2020. Monday updates include stories from the preceding Saturday and Sunday.

Federal responses

Read more: Political responses to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020, Federal, state, and local government policy changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

  • On Sunday, President Donald Trump (R) announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would fund the activation of U.S. National Guard units in California, New York, and Washington.
  • Negotiations between Congressional leaders and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin continued on Monday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) moved forward with procedural votes on legislation he introduced Thursday night. The vote to move to a final debate failed 49-46.
Election changes

Read more: Changes to election dates, procedures, and administration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Twelve states and one territory have changed state-level primary or general election dates. Four states have changed municipal election dates on a statewide basis.
  • Three states have adjusted their candidate filing procedures.
  • Five states have implemented changes to their voting procedures.
  • Political parties in seven states have made changes to party events on a statewide basis.
Details:
  • California – Governor Gavin Newsom (D) issued an executive order providing for all-mail voting in three special elections: the Winchester special recall election scheduled for April 7; the 25th Congressional District special general election scheduled for May 12; and the 28th State Senate District special general election scheduled for May 12.
  • Georgia’s petitioning deadline for unaffiliated and minor-party candidates has been postponed to August 14.
  • The Democratic Party of Hawaii has announced that it will not conduct in-person voting in its party-administered presidential preference primary, originally scheduled for April 4. Instead, all voting will take place by mail.
  • In Mississippi, the Republican primary runoff election for the 2nd Congressional District has been postponed to June 23.
  • In New Jersey, the following elections have been postponed by the governor’s order: special municipal elections in the townships of Old Bridge and West Amwell and Atlantic City; all school board elections scheduled for April 21.
  • The Oklahoma state board of elections has granted localities the authority to postpone their municipal elections originally scheduled for April 7 to a later date.
  • Puerto Rico’s Democratic presidential preference primary has been postponed to April 26.
  • Rhode Island has postponed its presidential preference primary to June 2.
  • Texas’ primary runoff elections have been postponed to July 14.
  • In Wyoming, all votes in the Democratic Party caucuses are to be cast by mail. The deadline for receipt is April 17.
State legislative changes

Read more: Changes to state legislative sessions in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Eighteen state legislatures have suspended their sessions.
  • Two states (Maine and Maryland) have adjourned early.
  • Five states have implemented partial suspensions.
Details:
  • Since our last update, no legislatures have taken further steps to suspend activity.
State court changes

Read more: State court closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • Thirty-three states have suspended in-person proceedings statewide.
  • Sixteen states have suspended in-person proceedings on the local level.
  • One state, Wyoming, has not had a change to their court schedules on either a state or local level.
Details:
  • Colorado – The Colorado Supreme Court extended its March 16 order, postponing jury trials through May 15.
  • Delaware – Delaware Supreme Court ordered court facilities to be closed to the public until April 15. Courthouse staffing will be reduced for emergency and essential matters.
  • Maine – Maine courts reduced hours of operation to decrease judicial staff and public exposure to coronavirus, while still proceeding with urgent court matters.
  • Minnesota – Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea issued a statewide order, effective March 23, restricting in-person access to courthouses for the next 30 days or until another order is issued. Hearings that must occur during the coronavirus pandemic may be held remotely.
  • Missouri – The Missouri Supreme Court issued a new order suspending all in-person proceedings statewide with a few exceptions, through April 17.
  • West Virginia – The West Virginia Supreme Court declared a judicial emergency and suspended all in-person proceedings, with a few exceptions, and jury trials through April 10.
  • Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Supreme Court suspended jury trials and halted in-person proceedings in favor of phone and video conferences.
School closures

Read more: School closures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Overview to date:
  • 45 of 50 states have ordered a statewide school closure. The remaining states are leaving school closures up to local officials. Those 45 states served 48.4 million students during the 2016-2017 school year, accounting for 95.7% of the 50.6 million public school students in the United States.
Details:
  • Virginia –  Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced that all schools statewide would be closed for the rest of the school year. Schools were previously scheduled to close through March 27. This made Virginia the second state to end its school year in response to the coronavirus outbreak (following Kansas last week).
  • North Carolina – Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to May 15.
  • Maine – The Portland School Department, the largest district in Maine, along with several others, announced closures until April 27.
  • Alaska – Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the statewide school closure, scheduled to end March 30, was extended to May 1.
Diagnosed or quarantined politicians

Read more: Political incumbents, candidates, and government officials diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined due to the coronavirus pandemic, 2020

Federal officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Federal officials who have entered quarantine
  • Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
  • Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM)
  • Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Federal officials who tested negative
  • Vice President Mike Pence (R)
State officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • State Rep. Helene Weinstein (D-NY)
  • State Rep. Charles Barron (D-NY)
  • State Sen. Bob Glanzer (R-SD)
  • State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff (D-WI)
  • State Rep. Luz Escamilla (D-UT)
  • State Rep. Bob Glanzer (R-SD)
  • State Rep. David Bowen (D-WI)
State officials who have entered quarantine
  • Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN)
  • State Rep. Holly Schepisi (D-NJ)
  • State Rep. Wendy Thomas (D-NH)
  • State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-NH)
  • State Rep. Judith Spang (D-NH)
  • State Rep. Nikema Williams (D-GA)
Local officials who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • New York City Council Member Inez Barron (D)
Local officials who have entered quarantine
  • Providence, Rhode Island City Councilmember Sabina Matos (D)
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina City Councilmembers Jeff Macintosh (D), Dan Besse (D), Robert Clark (R), John Larson (D), and Denise Adams (D).
  • San Antonio, Texas City Councilmembers Manuel Peleaz-Prada and Rebecca Viagran.