Representative Jim Neely's Capitol Report
Special Session Delayed
The second extra session of 2020 called by Gov. Parson is now temporarily delayed because of cases of COVID-19 among lawmakers and staff in the Senate. The special session dealing with supplemental funding for the pandemic response and liability protections for health care workers and businesses is now set to resume after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The legislature was called back to Jefferson City by Parson for the second special session that began on Nov. 5. House members acted quickly to approve a nearly $1.3 billion supplemental budget bill designed to allocate additional resources to the state’s pandemic response efforts. The House sent the bill to the Senate on Nov. 10. On Nov. 12 the governor expanded the call of the session to include liability protections for health care providers, manufacturers, businesses, schools, churches, and nonprofit organizations.
The Senate was on track to take up the supplemental budget bill and to begin movement on the COVID-19 liability protections before the Thanksgiving holiday, but this week the Senate announced the session would be delayed because of positive COVID-19 tests among lawmakers and staff.
Senate leadership said, "Due to a number of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff, the Missouri Senate will postpone action related to the extra legislative session until after the Thanksgiving holiday. This decision was not made lightly and, although disruptive, is in the best interest of protecting members, staff and the public."
The decision to postpone means the special session will continue into December when members will work quickly to finalize both bills. The Senate can complete the supplemental budget bill with a vote, but the liability protection legislation will have to move from the Senate to the House for consideration. House Speaker Elijah Haahr announced that Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann will handle the Senate bill when it makes its way to the House.
Wiemann said about the bill, “If you are a health care worker, a homeowner, a small business owner or the leader of a faith-based institution, you should not live in fear of frivolous litigation or face frivolous litigation during this pandemic. This legislation provides common sense protections to safeguard the health and well-being of Missourians while supporting our state’s continued economic recovery.” He added that the bill “does not offer blanket protection for non-pandemic cases like slips and falls due to negligence.”
The House is next set to meet for technical sessions on Friday, Nov. 20 and Monday, Nov. 30 but will not return for floor action until the Senate meets and approves the liability protection bill.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative, I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-0246.