The Tennessee General Assembly will go on a recess soon to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The decision came a day after Gov. Bill Lee met with the speakers of the Senate and House to discuss postponing business.
In a joint statement issued Monday afternoon, Lee, Speaker Cameron Sexton and Lt. Gov. Randy McNally said they are making the decision in the interest of public health. They will focus on passing a budget and then finishing business for the year.
“This is a serious time for our state and country, and we all must make adjustments in response to this threat. Our approach will take into account the unique public health challenges this complex virus presents, as well as the economic disruption likely to occur as a result of its spread,” the statement reads.
The statement said that passing a budget immediately will help lawmakers focus on addressing coronavirus.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Lee told reporters his administration anticipates presenting its budget on Wednesday. It will reflect the economic impact of the pandemic in the state.
“Forecasts for growth, forecast for the future economy of our country have changed dramatically and therefore we have a responsibility to adjust as well in state government,” Lee said.
On a tweet Monday afternoon, House Majority Leader William Lambert announced that the legislature will recess for “at least” eight weeks. He later told reporters the legislature has agreed to pass a preliminary budget.
“We hope to be back soon into session to complete the job we began a few months ago,” Lamberth said. “But we want to prepare a preliminary budget just in case that were to take longer than July 1st.”
Lamberth said the legislature will work through the bills that will affect the preliminary budget. When asked for specifics, Lamberth said that decision was up to the committees.
It’s not clear how long it will take for the legislature to pass the budget.
The House and Senate are still scheduled to hold a floor session on Tuesday afternoon. But they’ve restricted access to the state Capitol to essential staff, lawmakers and the press.