The 163-member Missouri House and its staff members will be encouraged to wear masks when they return to the Statehouse in Jefferson City on Monday.
The House will gavel-in Monday at noon, and will be debating the budget.
“We have supplied all members and staff with cloth masks. They are cotton and washable,” Missouri House Chief Clerk Dana Rademan Miller tells Missourinet. “All are encouraged, but not required, to wear them and to continue to practice social/physical distancing protocols when we return for session on Monday.”
The House hasn’t met since April 8, when they approved a historic $6.2 billion supplemental budget to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The April 8 debate with unlike anything that’s ever happened in the chamber, with House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, wearing a mask and the chamber limited to ten people at one time. There were no visitors that day in the upper galleries, which are normally full of lobbyists, schoolchildren and the general public.
House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, tells Missourinet the House has scheduled six hours of budget debate on Monday.
House Budget Committee Chairman Cody Smith, R-Carthage, tells Missourinet he expects the House to perfect the budget on Monday, and give it final approval on Wednesday.
Speaker Haahr and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, have said the decision to have lawmakers return on April 27 was not an easy one, but that “it’s absolutely critical for the people of Missouri that we keep the state government funded and services operating without interruption.”
Under the state Constitution, Missouri lawmakers are required to approve a balanced state operating budget by May 8.
Haahr and Schatz note committee hearings and legislative proceedings will remain open to the public. They are urging you to follow social distancing guidelines and to participate in the legislative process electronically, when possible.
Schatz says people entering the Missouri Capitol will go through a health screening process, like we saw earlier this month during the supplemental budget debate.
The last day of the 2020 legislative session is Friday, May 15.