SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature is considering a bill to extend the state of emergency for COVID-19.
House Joint Resolution 24, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, would extend Utah's state of emergency on novel coronavirus until June 30.
"That way we don’t have to come into a special session. Especially if you’re in a pandemic, the last thing you want to do is bring everybody right back to the Capitol building," Rep. Ray told FOX 13 on Wednesday. "So we can renew that in the June interim if we need to do that."
Capitol Hill is mobilizing quickly to respond as more cases of COVID-19 start to emerge. Rep. Ray also opened a bill to let Utah's Department of Health dip into a $16 million fund the legislature set aside for coronavirus response efforts. The White House gave Utah $6.4 million.
Meanwhile, the Senate is advancing a bill that would allow the legislature to meet remotely in an emergency. Senate Joint Resolution 16, sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, would allow lawmakers to meet over the internet or on a conference call if an emergency is declared.
"We're still subject to the Open and Public Meetings Act," Sen. Hemmert told reporters of the bill.
It had unanimous support in the Senate.
"Why didn't we do this years ago?" said Senate Minority Leader Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City.