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Lawmakers ask Parson to expand special session to include COVID liability


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With the extraordinary legislative session set to begin, lawmakers are putting the pressure on Gov. Mike Parson to expand the scope to address COVID-19 liability issues. 

“The cost of this pandemic has been dire not only in the lives that have been lost, but also with the massive disruption we have seen for Missourians and Missouri businesses in all parts of the state,” House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo said in a letter to the governor Thursday. “If we are to give our state the best chance to recover from this ongoing pandemic, it’s imperative that we take on these issues sooner rather than later.” 

The session thus far is to address a supplemental budget, focused on distributing CARES Act funding. Parson has said the funds will be earmarked for a variety of items, including child support aid, job training grants, school nutrition services, and homelessness prevention programs, among other things. 

In his letter, Vescovo noted there are “numerous small businesses” across the state that have not re-opened “because of the threat of litigation tied to COVID-19.”

Parson said his team would be in contact with lawmakers to see if there’s a plan in place to move forward with COVID liability — one that wouldn’t take several months to approve. 

“We’ve wanted to do COVID-19 from the beginning,” he said during a press conference Thursday afternoon. 

Republican Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin has also been vocal about the need for a special session to address liability issues. 

“I fully support Rob’s efforts to include COVID liability limitation legislation in this special session,” she told The Missouri Times. “Businesses and individuals can’t resume normal life until this gets resolved, and it has an enormous negative affect on our economic recovery. I think it should’ve been done in May.” 

This is the second time Parson has called lawmakers back to Jefferson City this year. The extraordinary session focused on combating rising violent crime rates in Missouri. 

Nearly 200,000 Missourians have tested positive overall for COVID-19, and more than 3,106 people have died. For the seven day period ending Nov. 2, Missouri’s positivity rate (based on state calculations) stood at 30 percent. 

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