On Tuesday, August 3, we convened as a Committee of the Whole to address the Governor’s recent state of emergency proclamation. Citing an increase in infections and hospitalizations due to the Delta Variant of COVID-19, the Governor declared a statewide public health emergency on July 29. Legislation passed in the 2021 Regular Session now requires the General Assembly to convene.
Under Act 403, if the Governor declares a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health, the House of Representatives and the Senate shall each convene as a committee of the whole within eight business days of the declaration to vote upon and debate any concurrent resolution to terminate the declaration.
Act 403 states the emergency shall not continue for longer than 60 days unless renewed by the Governor, so long as the Legislative Council does not vote to deny the request for renewal.
The act provides that if the Governor notifies the Legislative Council of his desire to renew a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health, he may also request the renewal of an executive order or proclamation issued to meet or mitigate dangers to the people and property of the state presented or threatened by a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health.
The Governor also announced he is calling for a special session to make changes to Act 1002.
Act 1002 passed during the 2021 Regular Session. It ends mandatory face-covering requirements not imposed by a private business or state-owned or state-controlled healthcare facility and prohibits a state agency or entity, political subdivision of the state, or a state or local official from mandating a face mask, face shield, or other face covering. The Governor indicated any proposed changes would focus on allowing individual school boards to implement mask policies.
We will continue to update you on any proposed legislation or schedules for the special session.
You can watch the proceedings live on our website at www.arkansashouse.org.