March 23, 2020

State Legislatures Act In Face Of COVID-19

Like the federal government, state legislatures are working to provide aid and certainty to employers and employees in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. The National Council of State Legislatures is trying to track all of these efforts here.

Twelve states already have passed fiscal measures in relation to the crisis. They are:

  • Alabama, appropriated $5 million to the Department of Public Health to establish remote testing sites and obtain testing materials.
  • Alaska, which appropriated more than $4 million to the Department of Health and Social Services for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
  • California, where lawmakers passed a bill appropriating up to $1 billion in supplemental funds bill to respond to the pandemic.
  • Iowa, which created emergency measures and supplemental appropriations across state agencies to combat the spread of the virus.
  • Maine, where lawmakers passed a supplemental budget of $73 million, including a portion devoted to coronavirus response.
  • Massachusetts, which appropriated $15 million for a reserve fund for monitoring, treatment, containment, and public awareness and prevention efforts.
  • Minnesota, which has provided nearly $221 million to cover the costs of treatment for coronavirus patients and to bolster the states’ Emergency Contingency Account.
  • New York, which has given $40 million in disaster emergency funds to the governor.
  • Arizona, which appropriated $55 million from the budget stabilization fund to a public health emergency fund.
  • In Georgia, which transferred $100 million in emergency funding from the state Revenue Shortfall Reserve to address the spread of COVID-19.
  • Maryland, which will use $50 million from the state’s rainy day fund for costs associated with the coronavirus.
  • Washington, where a $200 million will be dispersed among state and local agencies and support unemployment benefits.

Several states also are considering:

  • Workers’ Compensation Changes. In Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee announced changes to worker compensation rules that will provide compensation coverage for health care workers and first responders quarantined as a result of exposure to the coronavirus. For now, the state will provide benefits such as medical testing, treatment expenses, and time-loss payments to individuals in these sectors who cannot work.
  • Paid Sick Leave. Prior to COVID-19, 12 states and Washington D.C. have enacted laws to require paid sick leave. It is likely that more states will consider this issue in the coming weeks.

The National Association of Governors also is tracking COVID-19-related initiatives in each state. Click here to review that information. Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots for updates on states’ responses to COVID-19.