Research / Government Operations


Policy Analysis | January 2021

Coronavirus Impacts on State Legislatures: 2021

Mikko Lindberg, Roger Moore, Nick Bowman, Cody Allen, and Amanda Budd

Last updated: January 19, 2021

As of January 19, 2021, approximately 400,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus pandemic. On December 11, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine. The first round of vaccine candidates will be healthcare workers and nursing home residents. Against this backdrop, Southern legislatures are preparing for their 2021 legislative sessions.

This SLC Policy Analysis, updated on a weekly basis, tracks the special measures that Southern legislatures are adopting in order to meet safely in 2021.

Alabama

The Legislature will convene on February 2, 2021. The House and Senate plan to convene in their respective chambers. All who enter the State House will be required to wear face masks and have their temperature checked. The House of Representatives will repeat some of the safety measures adopted in 2020 to promote safety among its members. Approximately 58 members will be seated on the House floor, with 34 seated in the viewing gallery and 13 in two overflow rooms, with a television to monitor the proceedings. Locations will be selected based on a member’s health risk and age. Staff members will work to ensure an equitable party distribution for seating assignments. Members not seated on the House floor will cast votes on tablets.

House committee meetings will occur in five meeting rooms, equipped with cameras to allow public participation and access. If necessary, the House may use the archive room in the Alabama State Capitol. If these arrangements are not sufficient, the Legislature may convene in a nearby hotel or conference center.

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Policy Analysis | November 2020

Legislative Orientation for New Members Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cody Allen

In response to the ongoing pandemic, states in the SLC region implemented a variety of measures to effectively orient newly elected members. This SLC Policy Analysis reflects information gathered from publicly available sources, including legislative calendars and news reports, as well as a survey conducted among the 15 SLC member states. Chambers for which no information could be obtained are not included.

Of note, four SLC states – Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia – did not hold general legislative elections in 2020 and, therefore, have not yet had to establish new orientation protocols in response to COVID-19.

Arkansas

The Senate orientation remained in-person and included materials traditionally used during orientation. As there only were a few newly elected senators this term, the only significant difference from past practice was holding orientation one-on-one, instead of in a group setting, this year.

The House also held in-person orientation for newly elected representatives December 7-9. Unlike in years past, attendance was limited to new members and a select group of core legislators. Prior orientations during the past decade typically have included all members in some capacity. While some orientation presentations were pre-recorded, efforts were made to ensure that all presentations and materials were available online for members.

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Webinar | October 2020

Going the Distance: COVID-19 and Remote Work Implications for State Governments

Cody Allen

As a consequence of the ongoing pandemic and state public safety restrictions, many public sector employees who provide much needed services – often in direct response to the ongoing crisis – transitioned to remote work as a means to keep government and legislative services functioning. With economists projecting a more than $394 billion revenue shortfall for states through the end of Fiscal Year 2021, the cost savings of implementing a flexible remote workforce may lessen the impact of the economic downturn on state services, as well as allow for increased efficiency in operations. This program examines remote work arrangements and innovations in government operations during the current pandemic and how these telework arrangements may benefit government efficiency, and lower costs, in the short- and long-terms.

Presentations:

Byron Decoteau, Director, State Civil Service, Louisiana
Peter Heimbach, Director of Special Projects and Real Estate Asset Management, Department of General Services, Tennessee
Jennifer Murphy, Assistant Commissioner of Design, Construction, Facilities Management and Leasing, Department of General Services, Tennessee

2020-2021
Chair
Representative John Read, Mississippi

Representative
John Read

Mississippi

2020-2021
Vice Chair
Senator Kerry Roberts

Senator
Kerry Roberts

Tennessee

Immediate
Past Chair

Representative
Penny Houston

Georgia

Committee
Liaison
Cody Allen

Cody Allen
Policy Analyst


Since its creation, members of the SLC Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee have focused on myriad fiscal issues impacting state budgets and finances. Committee appointees include many of the finance and appropriations chairs from across the South, alongside others with fiscal expertise. The committee routinely examines the impact of the federal budget on state finances; state revenues and expenditures; national and regional economic outlooks; historical and developing fiscal trends; performance-based budgeting; e-commerce and taxation; and public pension plans. For more than 40 years, select fiscal research departments in the SLC member state legislatures have continued to provide annual Comparative Data Reports (CDRs), tracking revenue sources, appropriations levels, performance measures, and a multitude of other metrics in Southern states. A useful tool for legislators and legislative staff alike, CDRs are available for adult correctional systems, education, Medicaid and transportation.

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Primary Election Formulas of SLC Member States

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Regulation of Combat Sports

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State Occupational Boards and Commissions Fees

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Government Performance Audit Agencies

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State Employee Retirement Age in SLC Member States

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Southern States' Sunset Regulations

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Permanent Property Rights Task Forces

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Judicial Advisory Councils

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State Unemployment Insurance: Recent Trends

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Adult Correctional Systems, Education, Medicaid and Revenue

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Judicial Selection Methods in the Southern States

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A Review of Southern States' No-Call Registries

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