Some Missouri lawmakers want a special session on COVID liability

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The state of Missouri is reporting 1,747 new COVID-19 cases and 18 recent deaths in the past day and with numbers continuing to rise in the state and schools back in session, lawmakers are talking about COVID liability.

Now that Gov. Parson’s special session on violent crime ended Wednesday, Sept. 16, legislators are looking at what could be a big concern for the state lawsuit related to COVID-19. Gov. Parson agrees COVID liability is something that needs to be addressed.

“I’ll wait for both bodies to come in and we will discuss that and see if there is a path forward,” Gov. Parson said. “But I encourage them to find a path.”

Before adjourning from an eight-week special session on violent crime Wednesday, Sept. 16, some lawmakers voiced their opinion about the state’s response to COVID-19.

“It’s infuriating to me that I come into this body, and I’m told this is the most powerful group of people in the state of Missouri,” Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelby Co., said on the Senate floor. “These people hold all the power and we have come in here every day and we have done nothing.”

Republicans and Democrats are concerned about protecting Missourians, businesses and schools from COVID-19 related lawsuits.

“And there are a lot of things we could be doing right now to protect our families and our schools and if he calls us back to deal with COVID-19 for businesses, I sure hope he calls us back to deal with COVID-19 for people,” Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said.

The governor agrees it’s a topic that needs to be discussed.

“It’s huge for businesses and health care and the educational institutions for our state, so that’s one thing I hope they can find something to agree on,” Governor Parson said.

Gov. Parson said he’s leaving it up to lawmakers during his weekly COVID press conference.

“If we’re going to come back for special session, we need to have a game plan in place and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed,” Gov. Parson said.

More than 108,000 Missourians have tested positive for the virus, and lawmakers have said they are waiting for the governor’s leadership.

“I do hope if the governor calls a special session to deal with COVID liability, that we have an opportunity to actually deal with these issues that Missourians are actually facing with COVID-19,” Quade said.

“So how long are we going to let this happen?” O’Laughlin said. “We should have passed COVID liability and we should have done it in May.”

Parson said Wednesday he plans for lawmakers to return in October for another special session, this time to discuss the budget, but he did not say if COVID liability would be on the agenda.

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