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Iowa Legislators Suspend Session in Response to COVID-19

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DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa lawmakers had a long night trying to keep the state government running while suspending the session for the next month.

Legislators voted early Tuesday morning to put their work on pause.

Both the House and Senate passed legislation to waive requirements for schools to have to make up the days they are canceling through April 12th because of the coronavirus.

Republican leaders say these resolutions will give the governor flexibility to act as needed, without having to get the legislature's approval.

This includes giving Gov. Reynolds permission to transfer money between state departments as needed, without a cap on transfer authority or the standard two week notice. She will also have the ability to spend 10% of the current economic emergency fund to address COVID-19 in the state. 

There is currently 196 million dollars in the economic emergency fund. Over a half a million dollars of the emergency fund is going to testing kits for COVID-19. 
Senators have said the state should have enough kits to test for possible cases for up to six weeks. 

They want to reassure people they will be communicating and working behind the scenes.

“For anyone to think this action that the legislature is taking today, we're all gonna go home and have no communication for the next 30 days I would say isn't accurate,” said House Speaker Pat Grassley.

State senator Brad Zaun said, “The government will continue to run we just hope to just flatten this curve, grin and bear it for a bit and we'll be paying big dividends down the road.”

Leadership shot down the concept of remote voting, saying even if the suspended session continues past 30 days, remote voting would take away traditions and formality of debating in the chamber before voting on bills.

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