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California state lawmakers return to Capitol Monday

California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) — After the state capitol shut down twice because of the pandemic, state lawmakers return Monday with a long list of things to do and not a lot of time.

State lawmakers have five weeks to sort through, pass or reject hundreds of proposals — some of them in direct response to the pandemic. 

“These next five weeks, we’re going to focus on getting as many of these bills, these good bills done, as possible,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said.

The legislature’s long list of bills to debate include those aiming to address police brutality, unemployment, and housing.

Rendon laid out some of the legislature’s priorities..

“We need to stem the tide of evictions… our reaction to COVID isn’t complete yet we need to make sure we have all the services in place, PPE in place, and making sure our public healthcare system is working the way it ought to as well,” Rendon said. “But then there’s a series of other bills, we had a significant things to do as a legislature before COVID in areas of education, climate change, the environment.”

With the building now disinfected and mandatory temperature checks at the entrance, the legislature’s return to the Capitol comes after a second coronavirus-related shut down of the building.

Several staff members and two lawmakers caught the virus just before summer recess.

“A lot of members, myself included got in the bad habit of we were wearing masks, but once we started speaking we lowered our masks,” Rendon said. “We’re not going to allow that anymore. a lot of the other protocols will still be in place, very limited staffing in the building, the capitol doesn’t look how it used to.” 

With limited time to meet before the end of session Aug. 31 but no timetable on the end of the pandemic, Rendon is not ruling out a special legislative session. 

“We’ve had conversations in our house both as individual members and in caucus obviously we know we have huge problems to address,” Rendon said.

Rendon noted its ultimately the governor’s decision to call a special session.. lawmakers are expected to soon send him a letter requesting he call them back.

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