During the first day of their virutal legislative session, Utah lawmakers move quickly to pass bills responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was really strange in that aspect,” said Republican Senator Lyle HIllyard of Logan. “You don't have the same (ability) as you can talk to people back and forth and see body language so they'll be able to come to a consensus of opinion.”
Hillyard said lawmakers adjusted the budget and expanded unemployment benefits.
“Utah law requires you to be out of work for a week before you qualify for unemployment,” Hillyard said. “We changed that and said if it is COVID-19 related, you get your unemployment benefits immediately.”
Lawmakers also tweaked the statute related to education in light of school closures, allowed for experimental medications to be used by patients and allowed for first responders to get workers compensation if they're exposed to COVID-19 on the job.
Hilliard said he's received a number of personal calls from business owners in Cache County wondering when they will be able to reopen.
“You can't just turn the light out on come back two months and turn the light back on and have the same thing,” Hillyard said. “It just doesn't work that way. We need to move on. We need to do what we need to do to protect people, obviously, and advise all of them, ‘do what you know you have to do prudently.’”
Representatives in the House met Friday morning, Utah Senators will meet this afternoon. They will close out the day by approving legislation passed by the House. Right now, lawmakers plan to meet again the end of next week.