Opinion: Move to wrap-up legislative session the right one as we look ahead to Covid responses

Click here to read the letter to President Fann referenced below.

The Arizona state Senate on Friday is expected to adjourn sine die, bringing the second regular session of the 54th Legislature to a close.

But that’s not the end of legislators’ work for 2020. Not by a long shot.

The move to sine die is the right one by Senate President Fann. With no clear time horizon on when or whether the Legislature could begin work in regular order on pending legislation, she and legislative colleagues are winding down the regular session.

Now legislators can shift their attention to what the Legislature ought to address in a future special session focused on responses to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The business community, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is ready to get to work with legislators in crafting the policies the Legislature should address in a special session, not the least of which are liability protections for employers.

No one wants our economic recovery to be unnecessarily slowed by fears of creating a fertile field for dubious lawsuits targeting businesses. We can find the right balance. We can adopt policies that instill confidence in employers to reopen, while protecting their employees and customers, without giving a free pass to anyone who irresponsibly disregards commonsense efforts to stop the spread of the virus.

At the outset of the pandemic, when it became clear that the business of the Legislature would be interrupted, legislators acted quickly and in a bipartisan fashion to pass a fiscal year 2021 budget, authorizing $55 million for the Arizona Department of Health Services to address the coronavirus public health emergency, and $50 million in flexible and targeted COVID relief for Arizona.

When the Legislature reconvenes in a special session later this year, we’ll need that same spirit of cooperation and collaboration to address some very real challenges. The business community is here to help.

Several of Arizona’s leading business organizations today are sending the letter below to President Fann and her colleagues stating our support for sine die and reiterating our desire to partner with the Legislature in accelerating Arizona’s economic recovery and efforts to return stronger.

Courtney Coolidge is vice president of government affairs for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Attached below is a letter sent by the Arizona business community to President Karen Fann and all state Senators.

Dear President Fann,

On behalf of the Arizona business community, we thank you, Senator Bradley and the entire Arizona Senate for your service and commitment to the state and its residents during this difficult time. The COVID19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges and uncertainty for all Arizonans, and as the leader of the State Senate, you have been faced with many difficult decisions.

We applaud your swift action as the public health emergency was declared during the middle of our legislative session. The Legislature acted quickly and in a bipartisan fashion to pass a fiscal year 2021 budget, authorizing $55 million for the Arizona Department of Health Services to address the coronavirus public health emergency, and $50 million in flexible and targeted COVID relief for Arizona.

We understand that many other legislative priorities were left unfinished as you face the difficult decision to sine die. However, we believe adjourning sine die is the right decision so that the Legislature’s focus can turn to those issues pertinent to the COVID19 pandemic and Arizona’s economic recovery.

As the regular legislative session comes to a close, we know your work is far from complete and we stand ready to help. Like you, the business community is evaluating policy proposals important to Arizona’s economic recovery, most importantly addressing liability concerns stemming from COVID19 and taking swift measures to address budgetary shortfalls at the appropriate time, we are confident these can be addressed during a special session.

We thank you for your continued leadership during this challenging time and willingness to take action in the best interests of Arizona. We appreciate your partnership and communication with the business community and look forward to working with you to address future policy needs.

We are confident that Arizona can return stronger and we support you and your colleagues in the Legislature and the Governor’s office to maintain the critical balance of prioritizing public health, while ensuring maximum economic activity continues safely. We know there is a lot of work ahead and we stand ready to assist in any capacity you may find helpful.

Thank you again for your leadership and service.

Guest Contributor

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