JFAC Friday

Joint Finance-Appropriations Co-Chairs Sen. Steve Bair, left, and Rep. Rick Youngblood, center announce to the joint committee on Friday morning, March 19, 2021, that its meeting is canceled and likely delayed until April 6, as the House and Senate look to shut down legislative business temporarily due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the Statehouse.

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When it was time for this morning's JFAC meeting to start at 8 a.m., it didn't start. Members milled around as word spread - "like a virus," one said - that all committee meetings have been canceled. Co-Chair Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, then announced that this morning's meeting had been cancelled, and the Legislature is looking to adjourn until April 6 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. "It's just that we want to take a break and let some of this settle," he said.

Youngblood announced that the next meeting of JFAC will be at the call of the chair. "It looks like it may be April the 6th, which is a Tuesday," he told the joint committee.

Both the House and Senate still are scheduled to convene at the previously set times this morning -- 9:30 for the Senate and 10:30 for the House -- to consider recessing to take a break from legislative business.

So far this session, six House members, two senators, three House staffers and two Senate attachés have tested positive for COVID-19. The six House members and one Senate attaché all tested positive within the past week.

To clarify: This post has been updated to reflect that not all committee meetings were immediately canceled; Senate State Affairs and House Education still met briefly this morning, but quickly wrapped up their business and adjourned.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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