The Alabama legislature has found itself short five members due to COVID-19. With several legislators out due to illness, there are questions regarding the feasibility of continuing the special session should more fall ill.
There are 105 seats in the House, two currently remain vacant, four are out with COVID, and a small number are absent for other reasons.
The sole risk that illness could cause the session is lacking the minimum attendance requirement for the House of Representatives. This is known as a quorum. In Alabama, this means that there must be at least 53 members present. Otherwise, the House cannot conduct any business.
According to Clay Redden, the public information officer for the House, the last time quorum was not reached was in the 2020 regular session, at the beginning of the pandemic.
“If there are less than 53 members present no business can be conducted,” Redden said. “The House will return at 10 a.m. each day afterward until it achieves a quorum. The exception to this is if the governor declares a state of emergency. The House rules state if that occurs and the House fails to achieve a quorum then the speaker may set the time and date for the House to reconvene and must give members at least 12 hours notice. That took place in the 2020 Regular Session when the Covid pandemic began.”
Legislators are permitted to view session proceedings remotely. However, current House rules prevent members from voting remotely or by proxy.
The Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon stated that there is always a risk of mass transmission, but there does not appear to be a present danger of an inability to reach quorum in the House.
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