LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The Nebraska Legislature has suspended its session to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease. The 60-day session was scheduled to run until April 23.
Lawmakers were on a 4-day weekend and scheduled to reconvene Tuesday when Speaker Jim Scheer made the decision Monday morning to extend the break indefinitely “primarily for the health and safety of the state and to protect the health of members in the body.”
He said it was made in consultation with public health authorities, Gov. Pete Ricketts, legislative leaders, and others.
Scheer said the biggest factor was the CDC’s recommendation over the weekend about having no public gatherings of 50 people or more, and with 49 senators plus staff the Unicameral clearly topped that number.
The speaker plans on resuming the session “whenever this somewhat passes and we see an ebb that I believe to be safe to reconvene.” He might make a small exception, saying he may call lawmakers back next Monday to approve an emergency appropriation to fight the virus.
Scheer doesn’t think it’s legally possible for lawmakers to meet by Skype or some other means from remote locations, adding that he will be providing daily updates on the situation.
Senator Adam Morfeld of Lincoln says lawmakers under the decision because roughly two-thirds of the 49 senators are in the high-risk category if they were to catch the virus, mostly because of their age.