Coronavirus Response: Resources for State Legislators
As the coronavirus situation continues to unfold, we’re compiling resources here to help you navigate the many challenges this presents to your community. We will use this space to share policy, communication, and organizing resources that you can use to respond to the health, economic, and social impacts this is having on your communities.
We know that crises like these have disproportionate impacts on vulnerable and low-income communities and want to make sure we stand up for those most at risk. As legislators, you are uniquely positioned to find solutions that mitigate the harm for at-risk medical populations (people with chronic health conditions, people with disabilities, the elderly), hourly workers, the millions of Americans without access to health care or paid sick days, and everyone who is one health emergency away from financial ruin.
The resources below can help you use your platform to provide clear, scientifically-based information to the public and advocate for better policies.
If you have actions or new policies that are happening in your states, please share them so we can provide them to other legislators across the country. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Basics
- Legislative Sessions
- Race and the Virus: Bias, Data, Testing, and Impact
- Health Care
- Paid Leave and Sick Days
- Preventing Evictions, Utility Shut Offs, and Payment Deferment
- Democracy and Voting
- Reproductive Health Care
- Rural Communities and Agriculture
- Other Policies
- Messaging and Connecting with Constituents During Social Distancing
- National Resources on the Economic Impact
- Overview of the Federal Response Package
- CDC’s Coronavirus landing page (and in Spanish)
- Here is a list of coronavirus resources in multiple languages.
- NCSL’s Coronavirus Resources; including a state-by-state summary of state legislation related to COVID-19
- To see state declarations of emergency and information on state-specific resources and actions, see the National Governors Association webpage.
- From EPI, a summary of critical steps that state and local officials should consider
- The Kaiser Family Foundation has a website with updated information on the number of cases and deaths, as well as state-by-state policy action and data
- From CAP: international lessons learned from coronavirus reopenings
- U.S. Digital Response: As COVID-19 overwhelms the data, digital, and operational capacities of government, U.S. Digital Response connects states with highly qualified technical support (request assistance here).
- Lyft is offering assistance specifically for governments, nonprofits, and health care entities.
Legislative Sessions and Operating Remotely
- At extraordinary moments like today, state legislatures must adopt methods of flexible, remote governance while prioritizing transparency and public access. Read SiX’s blog post, Legislating in a Pandemic: Transparent & Remote Governance, for examples of rule/statutory changes and executive orders that have enabled states to adapt and govern amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource will be updated periodically as states try new methods and lessons are learned.
- See SiX’s webinar on Legislating in a Pandemic feat. U.S. Representative Katie Porter (CA-45), Demand Progress, and POPVOX.
- POPVOX and Demand Progress hosted a mock remote hearing and markup test with members of Congress. Check out their blog reviewing the exercise and watch the full mock hearing here.
- NCSL is tracking the suspension or postponement of legislative sessions here.
Race and the Virus: Bias, Data, Testing, and Impact
Structural racism puts people of color at greater risk to both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19.
Coronavirus data released from the CDC does not yet include breakdowns by race. We cannot continue to fight this pandemic blindly.
- From the COVID Tracking Project: Tracking Race and Ethnicity in the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren have called for comprehensive demographic data on people who are tested or treated for COVID-19. See the letter here.
- Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic: What the Racial Data Show: The pandemic seems to be hitting people of color the hardest
- NPR: The Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate, But U.S. Health Care Showing Familiar Biases
- Survey data from LeanIn.org reveals how the financial impact of COVID-19 disproportionately impacts women, particularly women of color.
- Center for American Progress’s column on health disparities by race and ethnicity
The Coronavirus Pandemic and the Racial Wealth Gap
Coronavirus Compounds Inequality and Endangers Communities of Color
On the Frontlines at Work and at Home: The Disproportionate Economic Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Women of Color
- General Health Care Policy Options
- This comprehensive COVID-19 resource page from Community Catalyst includes policy options and messaging tools, including social media graphics
- See 8 concrete recommendations from the Century Foundation to ensure people have accessible and affordable health coverage during the pandemic.
- Another 8 recommendations from the State Health and Value Strategies.
- Example of a comprehensive health care bill from Minnesota.
- NILC: Update on Health Care Access for Immigrants and Their Families
- Support for Health Care Professionals
- Address health care professional shortages by changing licensing rules.
- Provide Emergency Child Care to Healthcare Personnel
- Remove Barriers for Immigrant Medical Professionals
- Insurance Regulations and Changes
- The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) has developed a summary of regulatory updates from states in response to COVID-19.
- Special enrollment periods
- Telehealth Coverage
- Massachusetts Expands Telehealth Coverage for COVID-19
- Illinois will expand telemedicine coverage for residents with Medicaid as well as those who are privately insured.
- Drive-through testing centers:
Unemployment and Protecting Stimulus Paychecks
- NELP Policy Brief provides six concrete policy options: Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance: Options for Policymakers to Mitigate Job Loss:
- Increase funding to meet higher UI demand
- Adopt Work-Sharing to Provide Alternative to Layoffs
- Waive Work-Search and Waiting Week Requirements
- Clarify Good Cause to Quit
- Reform Disaster Unemployment Insurance
- Make sure those eligible receive UI benefits
- Note that increased eligibility will require additional administrative capacities.
- Example: MI Gov. Gretchen Whitmer temporarily expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits:
- Workers who have an unanticipated family care responsibility, including childcare responsibilities due to school closures, or those who are forced to care for loved ones who become ill.
- Workers who are sick, quarantined, or immunocompromised and who do not have access to paid family and medical leave or are laid off.
- First responders in the public health community who become ill or are quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19.
- Webinar Recording: Unemployment Insurance Reforms Needed to Address the Current Crisis and Permanently Fill the Gaps (March 24, EARN)
- Webinar Recording: State Responses to COVID-19 and Economic Downturn (March 19, EARN)
- Protection of stimulus checks from debt collectors and wage garnishment:
- The CARES Act “does not prevent private debt collectors from seizing the money for unpaid debts,” so in many states, action is necessary to protect residents’ recovery checks.
- Here’s a list of states that have taken action and their policies from the National Consumer Law Center.
Paid Leave and Sick Days
- Family Values @ Work:
- Coronavirus Federal Legislation that Aids Workers: Two major laws passed in March 2020 to support workers affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The first mandated paid sick days and paid family leave in some COVID-19 related situations; the second mandates significant unemployment benefits for workers.
- From the National Women’s Law Center:
- Eliminate the exemption for large employers and ensuring that nonprofits can be reimbursed for emergency benefits—and enact forward-looking provisions to ensure that these critical benefits are available to everyone outside of the circumstances of a public health emergency
- From A Better Balance:
- Paid Sick Time During a Public Health Emergency: Key Policy Elements to Include in an Emergency Paid Sick Time Bill: A 2-page comprehensive policy guide.
- An obvious policy fix is to allow workers to use earned sick leave when a workplace or a child’s school is closed due to a public health emergency.
- Know Your Rights: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act Paid Leave & Paid Sick Time FAQ: resource for constituents to understand the FFCRA and how it applies to them.
Examples of States’ Paid Leave Legislation in response to COVID-19
- Offer at least 24 hours of paid sick leave per year (Kentucky)
- Require employers to provide up to 40-56 hours of paid sick leave per year (New York)
- Provide law enforcement officers sick leave for absences due to COVID-19 (New York)
- Create a grant program to provide paid leave to quarantined contract workers (Ohio House and Senate)
- Provides isolated or quarantined state employees with shared leave (Washington)
- Expand the definition of a qualifying “serious health condition” to include workers and their families’ self-quarantining after exposure to a communicable disease (New Jersey)
- Make COVID-19 related leave eligible for unpaid family and medical leave and allow an employer to use accrued vacation time or other time off to get paid (California)
- Twelve states already require paid sick leave; see here for more information.
- Know Your Rights: State and Local Paid Sick Time Laws
- Comparison chart of all of the paid sick time laws on the books
- A map of all of the local and state laws in effect;
- And a list of the 18 paid sick time laws that explicitly cover time off due to closure of a place of business or school due to a public health emergency.
- Fact sheets here.
- National Housing Law Project’s Summary and Analysis of Federal CARES Act Eviction Moratorium
- National Low Income Housing Coalition’s COVID-19 resources
- A running list of state actions can be found here.
- Eviction Lab’s COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard outlines a number of protective measures states have taken to prevent eviction and homelessness and protect renters during the pandemic including eviction initiations, court processes, enforcement of eviction orders, short-term supports, and tenancy preservation measures.
- States are using the following tools to address evictions:
- Executive orders or Emergency orders
- Court orders
- Policy options:
- Cancel rent: Beyond Recovery is calling for immediate state and federal cancellation of rent, mortgage, and utility payments. Individual states have also put forward letters to the governor to suspend rent payments.
- Pause eviction/foreclosure hearings in court
- Eviction moratorium for renters
- Small businesses
- Mortgage foreclosure moratorium
Preventing Utility Shut Offs and Payment Deferment
- Compilation of government bodies & regulators and specific utilities that have ordered disconnections suspended
- Federal Response
- National Women’s Law Center is pushing a nationwide halt to utility shutoffs and evictions to ensure people do not experience homelessness because of the economic havoc and advocating for the bipartisan “Eviction Crisis Act” to help ensure families can access emergency help.
- Examples of State Responses
- Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) directed water, electric, and natural gas utilities to not only suspend utility shut offs, but additionally make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to an occupied dwelling that has been disconnected.
- CA Executive Order authorizes local governments to halt evictions related to the pandemic, slow foreclosures and protect against utility shutoffs.
- Emergency order from NH prohibiting utility shutoffs.
Democracy and Voting
- The 2020 Census is still on and it is more important than ever to get out the count and encourage communities to self-respond. SiX’s Census Get Out the Count Toolkit for State Legislators has everything you need to promote the census digitally with your constituents during the pandemic and is being updated regularly. Here’s the most important message the all legislators should be lifting up:
- “Responding to the census has never been easier. You can fill out the form from the comfort of your home—online, over the phone, or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker in person.”
- To make sure you’re staying informed and sharing the latest information with your constituents, check out the Census Bureau’s news room and overview of 2020 Census Operational Adjustments Due to COVID-19.
- On April 13, the Bureau announced major operational changes for the 2020 count. All field data collection activities have been suspended until June 1, and the enumeration period has been extended until October 31, 2020. That means households will now have until the end of October to self-respond to the census, though legislators should still encourage communities to participate as soon as possible.
Voting & Elections
- COVID-19 poses an incredible threat to voter access and participation in our elections and requires a multi-pronged, well-funded solution. To meet this challenge, states must rapidly ensure that voting systems are safe, resilient, and flexible. Democracy advocates across the country are uniting behind the below areas of reform to protect our democracy during the pandemic:
- Expanded voter registration, including online registration, same-day registration, and automatic registration;
- Expanded mail voting, including pre-paid postage and fair and consistent ballot verification and cure processes;
- Expanded early voting and in-person voting opportunities;
- Reforms to polling station locations, setups, and sanitation protocols (following CDC guidelines); and
- Robust public education.
- For a detailed overview of these policy recommendations see the following resources from SiX’s national partners:
- Brennan Center for Justice: How to Protect the 2020 Vote from the Coronavirus, Voters Need Safe and Sanitary In-Person Voting Options, Why a Vote-by-Mail Option Is Necessary, and Estimated Costs of Covid-19 Election Resiliency Measures
- National Taskforce on Election Crises: COVID-19 Election Guide
- The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: Voting Rights Coalition Letter: Protect Voting Rights and Public Safety in Response to COVID-19
- Brennan Center for Justice: How to Protect the 2020 Vote from the Coronavirus and Estimated Costs of Covid-19 Election Resiliency Measures
- Center for American Progress: Election Contingency Planning During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Campaign Legal Center: Three Measures to Ensure Ballot Access During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Fair Fight Action Fund: Protecting Our Democracy Amid COVID-19
- Marc Elias: Four Pillars to Safeguard Voting Rights with Vote by Mail
- For technical recommendations on expanded vote by mail, check out the National Vote at Home Institute’s extensive reference library and Scale-Up Roadmap to Secure the 2020 Election. This article from Washington Monthly outlines Utah’s path to scaling vote by mail. SiX’s 2018 Modern and Secure Elections Playbook also includes policy guidance and legislative language on vote by mail systems.
- For additional resources, see the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources page, National Association of Secretaries of State’s (NASS) Issue Briefing: Election Emergencies & COVID-19, and NCSL’s COVID-19 and Elections page.
- In this urgent global health pandemic, anti-abortion lawmakers are once again playing politics with people’s lives and health, and there are very real reproductive health impacts and needs this moment presents. Here are actions state lawmakers should consider in coordination with their state coalitions and reproductive health care providers.
- NIRH works with state and local advocates across the country to advance reproductive freedom and protect abortion access and have curated strategies here for advocates to consider to ensure that abortion care remains secure and accessible during these very challenging times.
- The Massachusetts Bureau of Health Care Safety and Quality issued a memo clarifying that abortion care is not considered “nonessential,” ensuring it is exempt from the ban on procedures that should be canceled or postponed.
- Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order makes clear that pregnancy-related care and procedures should continue as needed.
- Rewire News provides updates on governors and other state officials’ decisions on whether abortion care is an “essential” health-care service here.
Medical and Research Resources
- The American Medical Association (AMA) published a statement against government interference in the provision of essential reproductive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with seven other reproductive health organizations, issued a statement deeming abortion as an essential service. Read more.
- Abortion Care Network, National Abortion Federation, Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America released a statement on the essential nature of reproductive healthcare.
- Guttmacher Institute released their policy analysis, “The COVID-19 Outbreak: Potential Fallout for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.”
- The Texas Policy Evaluation Project published a research brief on the projected impact of the state’s executive order (declaring abortion care ‘non-essential’) on patient access to care in the state.
- Resources for teachers:
- The Education Commission of the States’ resource page on state policy responses offers information on remote learning, assessments, instructional time, special education, nutrition and homelessness, teachers, early learning and post secondary education.
- National Education Association Today: Schools and Coronavirus:What You Should Know
- American Federation of Teachers Resources on the COVID-19 coronavirus
- Coronavirus Lesson Plans and Resources
- Addressing food insecurity for students:
- Policies to make remote learning possible:
- Allow for less than the required days of school and to not penalize schools by reducing state aid.
- Extend statewide assessment test deadlines. See Which States Have Canceled Spring Tests Because of Coronavirus.
- Require internet service providers to provide broadband and data services free-of-charge to students.
- Appropriate funds for extra cleaning: See California and New Jersey.
- Financial support for school employees, administrators and teachers throughout the full school year despite school closures. See Minnesota House and Senate, Washington, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.
- Ensure the schools that close in response to COVID-19 will not be financially penalized in the apportionment of state aid. See California and New York.
- Support non-traditional public schools, such as those that serve students with disabilities, the deaf, or the blind as in New York
Rural Communities and Agriculture
See SiX’s talking points and policy solutions for rural communities and local agriculture and our memo outlining how stimulus money is expected to come into states to aid agriculture and rural communities. There are still a number of unknowns and we are continuing to monitor the situation closely.
The $2 trillion stimulus package included $9.5 billion dollars for agricultural producers impacted by coronavirus, including producers of specialty crops, producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools, and livestock producers, including dairy producers. You can read a summary compiled by the National Farmers Union here. Here is an analysis from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
The United States Senate Committee on Finance has a breakdown on their website of the rural healthcare resources in the recent Stimulus package. You can read it here.
- National Rural Health Association Covid-19 Communications Toolkit Sign up to access social media templates, news releases, radio scripts and CDC facts to get critical information out to rural constituents.
- Here is a list of resources for rural communities on the Oregon Office of Rural Health. These resources are certainly applicable to other states.
- Here is a map of ICU beds across the country. Note that many rural communities are without.
- Template in English & Spanish for connecting with neighbors and building contact lists
- Survey system that local nonprofit is using to coordinate community members’ needs and match them with volunteers
- Rural Broadband: This small internet company in rural Oregon is working to set up hotspots around the state. Contact them and they may be able to help problem-solve broadband in your rural district.
- Categorize Farmers Markets as Essential Services – Multiple officials have addressed this at a state level and categorized farmers’ markets with grocery stores, finding that they are essential services and can continue functioning: California , Connecticut Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Resources for Farmers in Your District
- Here is some guidance from Oregon State University’s Small Farm Program for producers who sell farm direct during this outbreak. Purdue released guidance as well and here are some additional resources from USDA.
- As farm-direct farmers are forced to find new marketing opportunities, here are some resources to support them:
- Barn2Door https://www.barn2door.com/
- Cropolis https://cropolis.co/
- Farmigo https://www.farmigo.com/
- Food4aAll https://www.food4all.com/sell-food-online-csa-software/
- Harvie https://www.harvie.farm/
- Local Food Marketplace https://home.localfoodmarketplace.com/
- Local Line https://site.localline.ca/
- Shopify https://www.shopify.com/
- Farmers are struggling all across the US for a variety of reasons. The added stress of COVID-19 might be more than folks can handle. Farm Aid provides a Farmers Resource Network and there is a hotline ( 1-800-FARM-AID /1-800-327-6243) for farmers in crisis. Further, National Farmers Union has a Farm Stress Training to help support farmers in crisis.
- Ensure that farmers and ranchers are included in any aid to businesses for revenue lost due to the crisis; invest in community-based emergency efforts to buy food from local farmers and get it to those in need, expand access to credit and offer debt flexibility at the state level to ensure that farmers are able to plant, grow and harvest the food we need this year.
Resources for Farm Workers
Here is a guidance from NC Health & Human Services for migrant farm workers and their employers (only in English)
- Here is a template that can be used as a temporary permit for agricultural essential employee.
- Farm Worker Justice released a statement on helping to ensure farmworkers are protected from COVID-19. Read it here.
- National Resources
- American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) COVID-19 Resource Center is tracking all the latest government agency updates and guidance.
- National Immigration Law Center (NILC) has an update on access to health care for immigrants and their families.
- The American Immigration Council (AIC) blog covers topics including the CARES Act, the vital role of health care workers from the immigrant community, the impact of the virus on asylum policy, and more.
- United Farm Workers (UFW) and others’ statement on a range of concerns for farmworkers amid COVID-19, including immigration and migration.
- Tahirih Justice Center’s issue brief explains the impact of COVID-19 on immigrant survivors of gender based violence and how loss of employment, isolation and violence in the home and continued ICE operations and detentions, among other factors, amplify their risk.
- This comprehensive national resource guide for undocumented communities has been making the rounds among advocates nationwide.
- NELP has an updated fact sheet on immigrant workers’ eligibility for unemployment insurance.
- The New School is hosting a webinar exploring Why Immigrant Workers Are Especially Vulnerable To COVID-19
- State Resources
- Alabama immigrant rights groups identify the state’s role in ensuring the statewide information hotline is accessible in different languages to provide critical information about COVID-19 and health resources.
- New York Immigration Coalition has a list of measures that the federal government, New York state, and New York City can take to ensure that immigrant communities stay safe and healthy.
- Massachusetts Immigration and Refugee Advocacy Coalition has compiled immigration policy and enforcement updates for the state.
- MD/VA/DC: CAIR Coalition calling for “ICE and EOIR immediately allow legal service providers to remotely access and represent individuals in all detention centers where persons are held in ICE custody and in all courts that remain open during this national emergency.”
- Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition has a list of education and policy actions for state elected officials.
- Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) has a list of requests for the federal government, California state legislature, and Los Angeles County.
- Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) has launched the People’s Bailout, a platform of proposals to deal with COVID-19 and the projected economic aftermath.
- Immigrant communities in Washington can use resource list for immigrant communities from OneAmerica for resources related to Covid and the ensuing crisis.
- In Wisconsin, Voces de la Fronteraa has compiled list of resources for immigrant communities both in Wisconsin and nationally.
- PLAN Nevada has compiled list of resources for vulnerable communities in Nevada.
- Immigration court closures:
- State legislation:
- Vermont adopted a resolution that urges the Fed Gov’t to refrain from arresting or detaining any individual based on immigration status in health care settings and suspension of the implementation of public charge
Other Policies to Consider
- From the Center for American Progress: Provide Emergency Child Care to Healthcare Personnel contains state-specific data and policy options.
- Colorado to offer emergency child care to eligible workers and pay “enhanced rate” to child care providers
- Ohio to open “temporary pandemic child care centers,” in response to requests from several hospitals.
- Allow essential workers to enroll in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program like Illinois or expand eligibility to all essential workers like in Minnesota and Vermont.
- Policy Memo from Center for American Progress has state examples and data.
- Will Child Care Be There When States Reopen? From PEW Stateline reviews various state efforts to keep child care centers open
- Center For American Progress memo on how Governors are responding to child care needs
- Minnesota has legislation to curb price gouging laws during a state of emergency.
- West Virginia passed a law to prohibit price increases of more than 10% on a wide range of consumer products.
- Some states have price gouging legislation limited to a single type of product or service, such as the price of prescription drugs in bills from New Hampshire, New York, Minnesota and Rhode Island; the price of medical supplies in New York; the price of gasoline in Maryland; and the price of hotels and lodging in Michigan.
- The Prison Policy Initiative has recommendations here.
- Advocacy for releasing juveniles from detention here.
- The Brennan Center has compiled “policy and advocacy responses detailing how different levels of the criminal justice system are responding to this public health crisis. This includes ways in which law enforcement, prosecutors, criminal courts, corrections agencies, and immigration agencies can better safeguard their communities and the broader public during this pandemic.”
- Furlough nonviolent prisoners
- Small Business Majority has put forward a policy agenda to immediately support small businesses and jobs
- Small business loans through the state (Florida, Massachusetts, New York) and the SBA
- Bills in New Jersey and Ohio would require that every business interruption insurance policy include the coronavirus pandemic in its list of covered perils.
- New Jersey legislation would provide grants during the emergency to small and medium-sized business and not-for-profit organizations.
- MA Rep. proposes waiving liquor licenses and making sure coronavirus isn’t categorized as an “act of G-d” for insurance purposes.
- Illinois offers tax deferments (2 months) and waives late fees/penalties
- A bill introduced in Louisiana would suspend certain provisions of the law which establish deadlines in legal proceedings.
- Expand income supports (SNAP, WIC, TANF) and remove work requirements.
- Emergency funding for social services (food banks, homeless shelters, senior center, childcare, prisons, halfway houses, etc.)
- Legislation in Ohio would delay eligibility redeterminations for food assistance, child care assistance, and TANF programs.
Hate Crime Prevention
- Advocates have created guidelines to help address discrimination and racism around local health department communications, talking points around the coronavirus and public charge, and recommendations around storytelling.
- Public Education and targeted support for LGTBQ and AAPI & indigenous communities
- A resolution in Utah was passed that expresses solidarity and support for the Chinese people’s efforts to contain the virus and reiterates that the CDC advised to “ not to panic about the coronavirus and has warned against stereotyping people of Asian descent.”
- A New Jersey bill would urge the FCC to take temporary measures to make broadband accessible to those affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- A bill in the Minnesota House and Senate would provide a range of protections for a quarantined individual, including reasonable at home work accommodations, a stay of civil court actions, a waiver of negative credit reporting, and a waiver of federally guaranteed student loan obligations during a period of isolation or quarantine.
- State budget line item to cover raises for healthcare professionals
- Tolls require the easy/drive-thru pass and people will have to pay later online (no more coins or cash)
- Special grocery shopping hours for older adults
- Classify Grocery Clerks as Emergency Workers
- Transportation standards and additional resources to help with emergency supplies and deliveries
- Create an Arts Fund to help artists and arts organizations
- SiX and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities Webinar
- State revenue shortfalls
- The Congressional Budget Office’s updated projections on state budget shortfalls as of April 29
- NCSL is documenting revised state revenue projections due to COVID-19
- CBPP has produced memos on state fiscal situations including expected hits to state budgets and individual state recession preparedness
- The Tax Foundation is looking at the impact of COVID-19 on state rainy day funds
- Pew has released a podcast on how states are addressing budget shortfalls
- Both EPI and CBPP have produced estimates on the funding state and local governments will need to fight the recession
- PEW has a piece on how COVID-19 is impacting sales taxes and thus affecting state budgets
- The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a report on State Options to Shore up Revenues and Improve Tax Codes amid Pandemic, giving states a number of tax policy options to increase wealth equity during the crisis
Messaging and Connecting with Constituents during Social Distancing
- Race Class Narrative National COVID-19 Messaging Document: In moments of crisis, new narratives, new policies and new social behaviors are established. In addition to acting with urgency around immediate needs, we must address the rhetoric that will undermine our long-term shared goals. Our message should be rooted in the values of interdependence, mutual solidarity, shared purpose and collective action. Use this messaging guide to inform all your communications. See Race Class Narrative Action for more.
- Data for Progress: Memo: The Care Economy – Policies and Polling on Mitigating the Effects of the Coronavirus
- The AFL-CIO is coordinating with government health organizations and professional experts to share timely and factual information here. Also, see this flyer about the virus and priorities for action to support workers.
- The SEIU healthcare division has developed a series of key messages for local leaders to use when responding to media inquiries or when developing content regarding COVID-19, including points on:
- Preventing the spread of the virus;
- Keeping working people healthy; and
- Why it’s past time for health care and paid sick time for all.
Connecting with Constituents
Here are some ideas and examples to help you connect with your constituents remotely:
- Host a Facebook Live Town Hall about COVID-19
- Tell your constituents what policies or executive orders are in place to help them
- Give specific information about how to access any assistance programs
- Talk about ways you and your family are coping with the new normal
- Host a Town Hall on a web video platform such as Zoom or Skype
- Host a Telephone Town Hall
- Send frequent E-newsletters with updates and resources
- Host Virtual Coffee Hours (WA example)
- Post informative graphics (MN example)
- Keep an updated and easily accessible document with relevant information (MI example)
- Connect with your constituents in a way that is personal to you (IL example) and keep your previously planned events, just change the location (IL example).
- Check out the Public Rights Project’s Digital Outreach Playbook for guidance on the best practices to reach vulnerable populations.
Reach out if we can help you plan or execute any of these ideas.
National Resources on Economic Impact
- Federal and state data on labor and unemployment
- Worker impacts and protections
- National Employment Law Project (NELP) and EPI have published pieces on the differential impacts felt by gig workers and misclassified workers, domestic workers, older workers, female workers,and farm workers as well as how workers who need paid sick days the most have the least
- EPI has written a memo on how states can implement worker protections and how Attorney Generals are protecting workers, and NELP has published a resource on how both state and federal legislators can enact worker protections during COVID-19
- State social safety nets and interventions
- CBPP has also detailed the breakdown of funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in two pieces: Individual state funding from CRF and State and locality division of CRF
- EPI estimates on the millions of workers losing employer-provided health insurance and necessary responses from state policymakers
- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’s (CBPP) reports on how some states are easing SNAP rules and providing other benefits while others block Medicaid expansion and add restrictions
- The Center for American Progress (CAP) highlights the danger of asset tests for public assistance in this moment
- NELP has memos on state developments in unemployment insurance protections, unemployment insurance options, and disaster unemployment assistance
- Reopening the economy and the long-term impacts of COVID-19
- ITEP shows how we cannot return to the status quo after the crisis ends
- CAP’s plan to end the crisis and restart the economy as well as building automatic and long-term economic relief
- Vox has reported on a number of plans to re-open the economy
- Transportation for America’s report on an infrastructure stimulus and lessons from the 2009 recession
- An EPI blog post on how COVID-19 will affect education achievement gaps
- Black economists matter and we need to be listening to them right now
Overview of the Federal Response Package
Overview of the Federal Response Package
- CBPP: How Will States and Localities Divide the Fiscal Relief in the Coronavirus Relief Fund?
- NCSL’s summary COVID-19 Stimulus Bill: What It Means for States details highlights of the package and an overview of the $150 billion to states, territories, local and tribal governments.
- EPI applauds crucial provisions in the CARES Act, but its glaring flaws mean that more is needed
- CBPP: CARES Act Includes Essential Measures to Respond to Public Health, Economic Crises, But More Will Be Needed
- Read this summary from Americans for Tax Fairness with a helpful chart to break down the data here.
- FERN’s AG Reader: Senate and Trump administration negotiators agreed on a $15.5 billion increase in SNAP funding
- NY Times FAQ on the bill
- SiX: The Impact of COVID-19 on Rural Communities & Local Agriculture Talking Points
- On the $12 billion in funding for HUD programs: NLIHC
- To maintain secure elections, advocates had requested $4 billion in funding to expand vote by mail, absentee voting, and crucial elections protections to ensure states can carry out fair elections this year. The bill allocates just $400 million.
- Family Values @ Work: Coronavirus Federal Legislation that Aids Workers: Two major laws passed in March 2020 to support workers affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The first mandated paid sick days and paid family leave in some COVID-19 related situations; the second mandates significant unemployment benefits for workers.
- For more information on changes to Unemployment in the new federal stimulus package, NELP has a comprehensive breakdown here: Unemployment insurance provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities joined SiX for a webinar to discuss how states can leverage federal funding from the stimulus bill.
Defend Against Harmful Policies
Opportunistic Abortion Bans
Elected officials in numerous states –including West Virginia, Alaska, Texas, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana— have taken steps to restrict abortions under the pretense of preserving medical supplies and hospital beds, claiming abortions are not “nonessential” procedures that can delayed till the end of the epidemic and most abortions do not take place in hospitals. See the Reproductive Health Care section on this page for more.
Reopening Too Soon?
Elected officials in Pennsylvania, Minnsota, Michigan, Idaho, and Florida have pushed back against stay-at-home orders, non-essential work bans, and school closures. The premature calls for returning to ‘business as usual’ threaten the safety and lives of communities.
Check out the LSSC Virtual Training on What Local Governments Can and Should Do to Respond to the Public Health Crisis for further guidance on the importance of local and state governments using their authority to protect communities from the virus.
Also check out the CAP tracker on how states and localities are enforcing stay-at-home orders
Limits to Voting Expansions
As states grapple with how to prepare their electoral systems to handle the pandemic’s unique challenges, legislators across the country have pushed for reforms (mail-in-ballots, absentee voting, deadline extensions, etc.) as a safe, secure, and accessible way for voters to participate without risking their health. However, opposition to such expansions, in states like Minnesota, Arizona, and Wisconsin, jeopardize citizens’ abilities to safely vote. See the Democracy and Voting section on this page for more.