Arizona Legislature to officially end session, focus on coronavirus
May 7, 2020, 8:17 AM | Updated: 1:24 pm
(FILE AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
PHOENIX – Arizona Senate President Karen Fann said Thursday the Legislature will officially end its session, allowing lawmakers to focus on coronavirus response.
Fann said in a press release the decision to convene Friday and close out the session – or sine die – was made in consultation with members of both chambers.
“There is a strong consensus that this is the right thing to do,” she said. “Recognizing that the health of Arizona citizens and our economic recovery are our highest priority, we are setting aside any legislative business that does not directly support this mission.”
However, the announcement apparently took Republican House leaders by surprise. House GOP spokesman Andrew Wilder said no decision on their plans has been made.
Fann, a Republican, said legislative task forces will be formed to deal with issues that arise as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Arizona’s lawmakers will identify the solutions necessary to accelerate our economic recovery while working to ensure that the constitutional liberties of all of Arizona’s citizens are preserved,” she said.
Senate Minority Leader David Bradley issued a statement supporting the move to end the session.
“Senate Democrats have been advocating for this decision since the legislature went on recess in March, believing it to be the best choice for Arizona,” he said.
“We are grateful to our Republican colleagues and Senate President Karen Fann for prioritizing public health over partisan politics.”
Fann and Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers had previously planned for the Legislature to meet May 1 to formally close out the session. But some Republicans pushed back, saying they wanted to complete their work, putting the plan in limbo.
Arizona lawmakers passed an emergency budget package March 23 and then adjourned, a week before Republican Gov. Doug Ducey issued a stay-home order designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus. They haven’t convened since.
Ducey has extended the stay-at-home order though May 15 with modifications, allowing some businesses to start opening their doors this week while still prohibiting activities that draw together large groups of people.
On April 22, state Sen. Lupe Contreras announced that he and and five of his family members had contracted COVID-19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.