93rd District Representative Norine Hammond says her days as a state legislator have changed dramatically since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. “It has changed dramatically for me. Representing all or part of 8 counties, I don’t spend a whole lot of time in my district office. I’m out on the road and either meeting individually with constituents and groups or going to activities and community events. Really and truly, that’s what I should be doing. That has completely changed. Now, I’m spending all my time in the district office. We don’t have any foot traffic. Our doors are not unlocked, but my L.A. has a separate office. She and I are in the office all day long just fielding phone calls and emails.”
Hammond and many lawmakers have been fielding calls on various issues surrounding the pandemic since the General Assembly canceled sessions beginning in late March. The General Assembly’s Spring Session is set to adjourn on May 31st. If they decide to hold a June session, bills would require a three-fifths vote to pass rather than a simple majority.
Hammond says she’s mainly fielded calls on 1 issue over the last 3 weeks. “I’m mostly getting calls about folks who are having trouble with unemployment. A few weeks back, we talked about how 90% of the work was all about FOID Card delays. Now, probably 5% of it is that and the rest is dealing with folks’ unemployment concerns.”
Lawmakers have already said that the paramount ethics reform commission has missed their deadline because of the virus. There have been hints at changing time periods for crucial votes on bills, changing committee meeting structures at the capital, to possible remote voting. There are currently no policies set in stone for lawmakers as they look to head back to the Capitol to address pressing issues.