When governors began to issue states of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 26 state legislatures suspended or postponed their legislative sessions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Next year, all 50 states are scheduled to convene their respective 2021 state legislative sessions, but with COVID-19 cases reaching record highs, many restrictions on in-person gatherings will remain in place.

Due to these continuing challenges, state legislatures are currently debating the safest ways for legislators to convene in January. Those considering an in-person session are discussing precautions such as daily, rapid COVID-19 testing, plexiglass shields between desks, temperature checks, face masks, and limiting staff and guest access to government buildings. Other states are considering going completely virtual for the safety of their legislators, staffers, and the public. NCSL has additional information on state actions related to legislative operations during the pandemic.

Six states are beginning to pre-file bills this month, including Arkansas, Georgia, Maryland, New York, Texas, and Utah. CAI’s legislative action committees (LACs) are hard at work drafting legislation to introduce during the 2021 state legislative sessions, strategic planning with lobbyists, and networking with legislators who champion bills in favor of the community association housing model. Many issues the LACs will consider in 2021 are COVID-19 related, including but not limited to:

    • Limited liability related to COVID-19
    • Housing assistance funds
    • Virtual meeting legislation

In many states, LAC members will not be able to advocate for the community association housing model in person but are becoming creative when it comes to their new advocacy tactics, such as holding meetings with legislators and their staff members through virtual platforms. While January may seem far off, the planning and behind-the-scenes work is happening right now.

CAI’s state legislative action committees are comprised of homeowner leaders, community managers, and representatives from community association business partners who graciously volunteer their time to monitor state legislation, educate lawmakers, and protect the interests of those living and working in community associations. Learn more about CAI’s LAC advocacy efforts, and follow us on Twitter for advocacy updates.

For more information about state government actions related to COVID-19 and your community, visit www.caionline.org/Pages/statecovid19.aspx

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