Missouri legislative leaders are working with the governor on a plan for when lawmakers can return to the Statehouse in Jefferson City.

Missouri House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, reads off the names of House members who were scheduled to come into the chamber and vote on the historic $6.2 billion supplemental budget on April 8, 2020 in Jefferson City. (photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, tells Missourinet he had a discussion with Governor Mike Parson on Thursday, and met with Senate leaders earlier in the week.

“Obviously, we won’t be back next week, but we’re looking down the road at a potential return date, we haven’t hammered that completely out but we’re working on it,” Haahr says.

Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, tells Missourinet he participated in Wednesday’s meeting with Haahr. The Speaker emphasizes it’s tough to set a date.

“The hard thing is, this thing (COVID-19 pandemic) sort of changes week-to-week, so even the best plans sometimes go awry, but we’re in the process of trying to figure that out specifically,” says Haahr.

Haahr says the Legislature has a constitutional duty to pass a balanced state operating budget. That deadline is in early May, and Governor Parson has indicated he may call a special session in June for the budget.

The Speaker also says there are some legislative policy items he wants to approve this session.

Meantime, Haahr says Wednesday’s passage of the $6.2 billion supplemental budget to battle COVID-19 “will go down in the record books”. It’s the largest supplemental budget in state history.

The House floor debate was unlike anything that’s ever been seen in the chamber.

“Presiding over an empty chamber with only a maximum of ten people on the floor at the time. Everyone in masks, everyone keeping at least six feet apart,” Haahr says.

There were no visitors sitting in the upper galleries, which normally are full of lobbyists, schoolchildren and the general public. Haahr thanks the House clerk, House staffers, his staff and legislators for making sure things worked in an orderly fashion.

House members came into the chamber to vote, four at a time. They never touched a door, because the back door in the chamber stayed open.

State health officials say there are now 3,539 confirmed coronavirus cases in Missouri, along with 77 deaths. The state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) released the latest numbers today. Those numbers have increased from Wednesday’s number of 3,327 cases and 58 deaths.

Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, which was recorded on April 9, 2020:

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