higher education schools reopening covid

Where there’s smoke, there’s popcorn: A popcorn machine that triggered two fire alarm evacuations was removed from the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck.

First Branch News | Legislative Headlines, Week of March 22, 2021

By Gene Rose | March 26, 2021 | State Legislatures News

First Branch News is NCSL’s weekly roundup of legislative headlines from news sources across the country and throughout the territories.

COVID cases cause shutdowns in Idaho and Oregon. New Mexico ends its regular session, but a special session is around the corner. A feline mascot returns safely to the Nebraska Capitol after going missing for a week. And the sweet smell of popcorn won’t be in the air at the North Dakota Capitol.

Legislative Operations

The Idaho Legislature postponed its 2021 session for a few weeks after a half-dozen legislators were diagnosed with COVID-19. The Alaska Legislature plans to meet until at least mid-May this year. The Arkansas General Assembly moved to extend its session to deal with redistricting. The North Dakota Legislative Assembly is considering processes for future member misconduct. The Oregon House cancelled floor sessions when a COVID case was confirmed at the Capitol. Some lawmakers are challenging institutional dress codes across the country. The New Mexico Legislature adjourned with the governor suggesting a special session soon on the regulation of cannabis.

Authority of Legislatures

The Ohio General Assembly successfully overrode the governor’s veto regarding limitations on emergency health orders, while an effort to override the governor’s veto in Arkansas fell short. Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R) discussed his concerns about federal actions in a wide-ranging interview. California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) discussed tensions between the legislature and the governor during an interview. The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied a petition from the state attorney general to overturn the legislature’s control over lawsuit settlements involving the state. Connecticut lawmakers are assessing the governor’s executive orders relating to the pandemic. The Minnesota governor told the legislature he alone could decide how to spend the state’s federal stimulus funds. The Kansas governor approved legislation that rewrites how the state manages pandemics and future emergencies.


Legislators and Staff in the News

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D) tested positive for COVID-19. Nevada Assembly Sergeant-at-Arms Robin Bates, who died from COVID-19 on Feb. 1, was memorialized in this warm tribute. A popcorn machine for lawmakers in the North Dakota Capitol had to be removed after setting off two fire alarms (see photo above). Utah Senate President Stuart Adams (R) and Majority Leader Karen Mayne (R) were interviewed regarding the end of the 2021 legislative session. California Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D) was nominated to become the state’s next attorney general. Andrea Valderrama (D) was chosen to fill an open seat in the Oregon House.

Other News

After disappearing more than a week ago, Cameron the “Capitol Cat” returned in apparently good health to his post on the Nebraska Capitol’s south steps, right.

This Week From NCSL’s State Legislatures News

Articles from news sources curated in First Branch News are provided for information purposes only and do not reflect NCSL views.

Gene Rose is NCSL’s communications director.

Additional Resources