BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana lawmakers are restarting their legislative session Monday in a state reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic.
They are grappling with new budget troubles, squabbling over what bills should take priority and feuding over whether they should return at all. Republicans want to resume the final four weeks of a session that began March 9 — the same day Louisiana had its first positive coronavirus test.
Democrats say it’s unsafe to bring hundreds of people into the Capitol. Nearly 2,000 Louisianans have died from the virus, including a House lawmaker.
Republican Senate President Page Cortez and House Speaker Clay Schexnayder are pledging intense cleaning and protective measures.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards says he doesn’t foresee armed protesters disrupting lawmakers when the coronavirus-interrupted legislative session resumes.
He noted Friday that visitors aren’t allowed to bring firearms into Louisiana’s Capitol unlike in Michigan where it's legal to do so.
Protesters entered Michigan's state Capital on Thursday in opposition to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. The issue surfaced as neighboring Republican-led states such as Texas and Mississippi moved more aggressively toward reopening their economies.
On Monday, Edwards announced he was extending his Louisiana’s stay-at-home order through May 15. As of Saturday, at least 1,950 people in Louisiana had died from the virus.