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All right we’re live on Facebook Thank you. Greetings from Lexington, Kentucky and thanks for joining us today for our ACYPL Virtual Town Hall I am Maggie Mick, Chief Advancement Officer for the Council of State Governments, known to many as CSG. Our organization was founded by the states in 1933 and serves state officials from all three branches of government through public policy and leadership development programs as well as direct technical assistance to the states and U.S. territories I am a proud alumna and board Trustee for ACYPL Thank you for your participation and involvement with ACYPL over the years. As an organization that brings together young political leaders to find common ground in understanding and share varied perspectives, our mission has never been more needed or important than today. We want today’s town hall to be conversational and I hope, informal. If you have a question, feel free to submit it to the chat down here or the Q&A box I’m going to monitor it throughout the conversation and bring you into the conversation as we can if you’re having technical difficulties of any kind, again, just tap into the chat box and a member of the ACYPL team will assist you. Now as states lead during COVID-19, countless societal trends and public policy considerations have emerged To govern during the pandemic, state legislatures have been forced to make capital investments in their technologies to allow remote committee hearings and voting Beyond these technology enhancements, the challenges of how to lead and govern during multiple crises has brought on by the pandemic have provided state leaders much to ponder. This town hall will explore how state legislatures have responded to the challenges presented by the pandemic, and provide insights from elected leaders from across the country on public policy trends that they foresee in the coming months and years ahead. Today we will seek to answer the question: How does COVID-19 immediately and potentially forever modernize state legislatures? Now to help us answer that question, we have brought together an impressive group of ACYPL alumni. Both republicans and democrats in true ACYPL spirit who serve in state legislatures from around the country. Now let me introduce you to them now Florida state Senator Anitere Flores, a republican has served in the legislature for the past 16 years and is finishing her final term in the state Senate this year She represents southern Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys. During her long tenure in the legislature, and in her time as part of Senate leadership, she has been heralded as a champion for education for Florida’s diverse communities, constituencies and families Texas State Representative Anna Hernandez, a Democrat, represents parts of our nation’s fourth largest city, Houston. She was born on the U.S.-Mexico border in New Mexico. A leader on immigration reform, she was elected to the Texas House of Representatives at age 27 in 2005 Anna is an attorney, and serves as the Vice Chair of the House Committee on State Affairs.The committee’s jurisdiction covers a broad range of issues including conduct of elections, protections of constitutional freedoms, oversight of public pension systems, and operation of state and local government. All issues presenting themselves during COVID-19. Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen, a democrat, represents his hometown of Salt Lake City He has served in the Senate since 2019 after two terms on the Salt Lake City City Council. As a small business owner and restauranteur, I look forward to hearing his reflections on impacts to small business brought on by COVID-19, but also how private sector innovation and modernization has led to some inspiring moments even during this time. Pennsylvania State Representative Ryan Mackenzie, a Republican, is the ninth generation to live in his hometown, and represents the suburbs of Allentown Representative Mackenzie currently serves as Deputy Majority Whip and Vice Chairman of the Labor and Industry Committee Prior to his election to the House, he served as the Director of Policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. In his senior management role, he worked on issues relating to unemployment compensation reform, an issue of priority focus during this time Welcome to you all and I’m really looking forward to this discussion So, if we’re trying to set the context of modernization and how COVID-19 has

led to that question and those considerations, let’s go back a little bit. So we are standing in March, March 13th I think we’ve all agreed that that’s kind of when the world shut down and where were you standing uh what were you doing and how did your state legislatures immediately pivot the word of 2020, their operations, in light of the the pandemic that had arrived? Senator Flores, let’s start with you. Sure so thanks so much for having me. March 13th was actually the last day of our 2020 session. So it was very much like this weird kind of day that you know we were still in Tallahassee and kind of getting you know phone calls and conversations from home, from our schools, you know from those of us who have kids in school saying hey, “you’re going home today” and then I don’t know when they’re coming back So it was and that is at the backdrop of the typical chaos that is the last day of the legislative session where you know kind of get everything done at the same time. As you mentioned, it was my it’s my last regular session, so we have to pack up our office and we just left. So i actually need to still go back to Tallahassee at some point before November and pack up our office So it was an interesting moment being that it was the last day of session because it was very much like you said like the day when the world just stopped and at the time we all thought it was just going to be for a couple weeks and you know several months later obviously we’re still doing this. So they departed and you haven’t had any special sessions so no immediate in fact well so our last day of session was the 13th. Not really our last day So we have to vote on the budget is your last action and you need three days from the day that the budget’s printed to the day that you vote so ours didn’t actually get printed and finalized till that Friday morning and so we had to come back three days later to take the vote. At that point, the vote is you know you already know what what’s going to happen, there’s just kind of this constitutional cooling off period. What did happen for those of us like myself that to get to Tallahassee generally we we fly because it’s a it’s so far from South Florida, I don’t think any of the South Florida legislators actually went to Tallahassee to vote, so in a very strange way, my last official act as a State Senator like you said I didn’t I said I didn’t pass that that last vote because there was just so much fear and uncertainty surrounding you know getting in and going in an airport getting on a plane you know do we touch things do we not, I mean it just was bizarre so what ended up being the very last day of session was which normally is you know fun in a relative term I guess, fun but you know people at least are relieved it’s the last day this was a very somber quiet tone I watched it from home and it was it was quiet was I think the thing that resounded most to to us is that it was just so so quiet you could hear a pin drop not just in the Senate, but in the House you know with 120 members there’s usually a lot of chatter and it was just quiet because I think a lot of people were you know were still very scared Representative Hernandez, what was happening in Texas? Can you hear me Representative Hernandez? She had some technical difficulties Yeah, I think that hurricane’s impacting Representative Mackenzie, what was happening in Pennsylvania? How did you all respond? Yeah so we here in Pennsylvania have a full-time legislature, and so after March 13th we actually did go back in session very quickly just a few days later and as was mentioned by the Senator there was you know a lot of unknown concerns and everybody was a bit afraid of what was going on with the virus at the time So we immediately went back in, but we only went back for one vote and that was just to allow for remote voting. And so we very quickly transitioned to electronic voting where people could vote from their home districts. At the same time, it was something that was new to the legislature, and so there was a lot of concern about how that would operate what types of bills would be run and so we actually at the time passed a rule unanimously

with support from both Democrat and Republican leaders that said you could only vote remotely on legislation which was non-controversial, and by that meaning both the Republican and Democrat leaders in the chamber agreed to call up that legislation, whereas typically it would just be the majority leader that would call up a piece of legislation so that was a phased transition that we went through to allow for remote voting to initially occur, and make sure that people were comfortable with that. We went to that process, then everybody was there for that initial remote voting transition. Then everybody largely went to voting from home and now it’s kind of in a hybrid state where people some people still do vote from home if they have a concern, maybe they have a family member who is immunocompromised or has some kind of issues or maybe they have concerns about their own exposure so they they can vote remotely and some people still do that but largely the legislature has returned to in-person voting at this point Now at the same time, some of the benefits that we have seen from that transition about remote voting and remote hearings are continuing and people are actually enjoying them so you’re seeing a lot more remote hearings taking place and I think that that’s something that’s probably going to continue as we move forward as well All right Representative Hernandez can you hear me now? I’m back I apologize where were you standing on March 13th? Well our legislature in Texas only meets every two years. So it’s during our interim so we’re all back in our districts on March 13th we are preparing for our next session that will start in January of 2021 So we’re looking at other states and see what has worked what has not worked and tried to to follow some of that as we convene in January. Nice all right Senator Kitchen where were you in March? Well I appreciate the question like Senator Flores we were in our final day of our general session and here in Utah we are a part-time legislature so we meet for 45 days once a year It runs from January through mid-march and I remember the day before the last day of our session is when the travel ban from Europe was announced by the Federal Government and the Trump administration and that was I think when it really hit a lot of the legislators here in Utah that this was something really serious that we needed to prepare for and so with less than 24 hours before the end of our our you know the statutory end of our legislative session, we scrambled together some policy to anticipate what might come our way with this pandemic. And so we passed a joint resolution that allowed for lawmakers to convene virtually and again that allowed us to you know conduct all of our meetings virtually as necessary and it gave us a lot of latitude and exactly what that looked like. Since our session ended at midnight on the 13th of March, we have since had four special sessions and in that vein we have the first two sessions were primarily electronics so we use a platform from Cisco called Webex to meet and then our IT department actually crafted together a separate voting system so we use Webex to for the visual component of the meeting and then we have a secure site where we cast all of our votes formally Now I say that we’ve had four sessions since four special sessions since the end of our general session, because that’s the most of any part-time legislative body in the United States. And so the first session itself was called just one month after we finalized our general session and we had a lot of policy matters to address, obviously the impact of COVID-19 and the global pandemic created colossal impacts for the state of Utah and so we we crafted all kinds of bills that were really critical to us navigating our way out of the pandemic itself and the ensuing economic issues that followed. So you know things like changing our tax deadlines giving our governor and the executive branch various emergency powers and things of that nature But you know we have we’ve moved really fast in the state of Utah. We have 29 members in the Utah State Senate and a total of 75 members in the House and we have been block step on all of these emergency changes as we adapt to COVID-19. Now the most recent two special sessions: we have conducted them in a hybrid model where we have about half of the legislature in person at the Capitol, and then the rest of them meeting remotely from their home districts Utah

This is where we have a lot of rural legislators and so I have found that a lot of these legislators from the other part you know corners of the state have really enjoyed meeting virtually they saved a lot of the gas money and it’s nice for them to be able to meet in person or excuse me digitally, but it comes with its fair share of challenges as well because in politics a great you know a great deal of our policy making happens in conversation that we have sort of randomly in the hallway and so what I have found is that a lot of these discussions aren’t taking place and so there’s a bit of distance between you know between certain members of the legislature that are meeting in person and those that are piping in digitally. And so you know it’s again it’s come with its fair share of challenges, but I would say after the first special session back in April we have been able to adjust quite well and it’s it’s been very enjoyable for me personally Well and I think that’s actually a great bridge because one of the issues that you all amended, but that you’ve actually had for a really long time, were issues around mail-in voting and remote voting and that sort of thing We now find ourselves in the height of election season. A number of primaries have taken place we’re now gearing up for the general, the conventions have now shut down and been executed virtually In terms of you know the campaign season that we currently exist in, you know what changes did you all see in Utah on your mail in voting and then from our other panelists, you know how are your states approaching how to vote remotely and and approaching it individually Sure yeah i’ll go ahead and start. So as you may know there are five states that currently conduct elections entirely by mail including Utah and what this means is that if you’re a registered voter that you don’t have to request a mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot The state and the county clerks automatically send them out to all registered voter here in Utah. We’ve had vote by mail for years in fact back in 2012 the legislature authorized an elections officer to administer the election entirely by mail and in the following years we’ve seen some really interesting results so in 2016 the last presidential election we had 21 out of our 29 counties conduct vote by mail entirely. That same year the presidential year we found that in these counties that did conduct vote by mail we saw a six to seven percent increase in voter turnout so that was great. Some further details that I think are worth mentioning here is that those counties that did go to vote by mail saw the greatest number of increases among low propensity voters which I think is excellent. Also in that same year our statewide voter turnout was more than 80 percent of registered voters and so we’re really proud of that voter engagement level and hope to see that increase in the 2020 cycle Now here in Utah we had a statewide primary back in June for the Republican primary and this again was one of the largest turnouts that we’ve ever seen in a primary in state history and this one was conducted entirely by mail in all 29 counties and so as we go into the general election this November we’ve already had you know a dry run on the vote by mail statewide and that was without many hiccups. That was you know it was a pretty smooth process generally, but i will say just really quickly while I’ve got the floor in our special sessions over the last few months we have crafted a number of policies relating to COVID-19 and our elections Two of them in particular are designed to make sure that voters have the ability to safely engage in the election in November. The first one which was back in April it allowed us to do the the primary and entirely by mail and we also increased a ton of funding for our counties so that election employees as well as voters were safe and had enough personal protective equipment and then we also created a process during that same time that allowed for mobile voting for each county to have unique rules for their for mobile voting that means drive-through voting, various outdoor voting booths, so we have some city and county parks that are preparing to take voters so that you know people can cast their ballot excuse me either you know through the mail as I already mentioned, but also if for some reason they don’t trust the USPS system or they don’t

they they changed you know their affiliation or something changed on their address they can actually go vote in person as well and so we’re allowing folks to do that with outdoor voting which is going to be a bit of a challenge because here in Utah we have pretty intense winters and the election in November on the third is who knows what the weather is going to be like The second thing which is worth mentioning really quickly and just last week we had a special session, we passed a bill that basically gives the county clerk the ability to accept a ballot outside of the county clerk’s office so we’re doing all kinds of things: walk-up voting, drive-through voting, you know we’re just trying to be as I guess creative as possible as we are modern, yeah contemporary, right? I mean at the end of the day this is about Democracy and voter engagement and so if we can raise our voter engagement from 80.2 percent to you know 85 or 90 percent that would be ideal so yeah I mean we’re again sort of like Representative Hernandez we are watching what other states are doing, but that’s not stopping us from trying to do our own innovative work here And I know that Florida has actually had mail-in voting for quite some time as well, anything to add to kind of those insights? Yeah well I mean as we have for the last um 10 years i’d say we’ve done a lot we don’t do universal mail-in voting like they do in Utah, but you it’s anyone that wants to be able to vote by mail can vote by mail, right? Prior to ten years ago you’d have to give an excuse or something so one on vote by mail, it’s something that we’ve we’ve done for a while and I point out two things to states that are looking at you know what works and what doesn’t so the two biggest issues I’d say that we have that come up with critics of vote by mail: our number one is that you know your ballot has to be in the election supervisor’s possession by the time the polls close on election night so the challenge that exists there is you know people get concerned with the postal service, is it going to take too long, does it not take too long, and so there’s been a lot of pushback for the last couple of years but it’s intensified now To extend that deadline and say well, you know if you’re postmarked by 7pm then it should be fine that’s a policy discussion that will have lots of you know will have political ramifications as to how it is that one makes that decision, but it’s I would say it’s been beneficial in a way to be able to point to the law that hasn’t been you know that it’s been consistent for some time and said look it’s it’s very clear you need to have your ballot in by 7pm election night, your state can make a different rule, but I guess my my suggestion would be is you know you have to rule and you kind of stick to it right? So some of the things that we did Just this last our dry run was in August, August 18th was our statewide primary, and one of the things that we did for that is we had at all of our early voting locations we also have very extensive early voting The last for two weeks prior All of our early voting locations had election officials there with like an official ballot drop-off box, right? So if you don’t know that your ballot’s not gonna get there on time, you could go into an early voting site and you just you know hands-free kind of you know just go in and drop it off And also on election day you can go into your your to your elections supervisor, or you know elections department So first concern is you got to figure out what’s the the day that the ballot is due, and then stick to it right? You’ll have critics, but stick to it. I actually think that that is really important to note that in Florida it is the same day it is election day considering that you all are one of the states that is always kind of the big question on election night, that actually in a presidential election year is really important that the decision of the presidential election and other Florida elections could be determined that night depending on which way Florida goes I just think that that’s fascinating We forget our last November election, but in November 2018 if anyone recalls we had you know elections for governor and for all of our cabinet members and they were razor thin margin and so there was a lot of a lot of people’s questioning, hey my ballot made there and got there at 7:10 or got there the

next day, and so you know the only way to change that would be through legislation, but we I guess what D’d say is that we’re trying to make it easier to make sure that the ballot actually does make it on time. You know we mail it out early and then I think having those drop boxes, that helped clear a lot of the the challenges when you look at the number of ballots that had been rejected because they got there late and then the second issue and this one’s even probably even harder is you know the signature on your absentee ballot or mainland ballot has to match the signature that’s on file and that is it’s kind of been more of a public service announcement to make sure to let voters know if you think that your signature has changed you you know you’ve got to go in and change it so one of the things that we’ve done I would say again I think to to help these concerns is you know as long as your ballot gets there with enough time you can track your ballot so all of our mailing ballots actually have like a you know like a UPS tracking number So you can go online yourself and find out you know when it’s in, when it got there, is there a deficiency, and I know that you know a lot of the the election supervisors you know they try and make an effort as long as they have the time to be able to call and contact the voters to let them know about that deficiency In Texas, what’s the status on your mail-in voting? I think you’re on mute Representative Hernandez Sorry. Very different in Texas, you have to meet certain eligibility requirements to be able to vote by mail. That’s either over the age of 65, or that you’ll be out of the county on election day or cite some disability or illness, or if you’re confined in jail, but still eligible to vote. And our democratic party leaders and others have filed suit to try to expand those requirements to include the current pandemic and say if someone is fearful of going to the voting location because of exposure to coronavirus that they would be able to vote by mail. Well that was litigated in the courts and they prevailed at the lower court, but then it was blocked on appeal and so now our county clerks are kind of taking measures, taking matters into their own hands and mailing ballot applications can you hear me? Am i frozen again? Okay, sorry I know i have a bad internet connection today I apologize. So for our team So for our July runoff election our county clerk sent out the mail ballot applications for all those voters that were 65 and older and announced earlier this week that it was your intent to mail an application to all registered voters in Harris County, which is over two million registered voters and we just got a letter from our Secretary of State yesterday asking them to halt any plans to do that because that would be abuse of voter rights and they are still in discussion about that so we’re trying different ways to make sure that people that want to vote are eligible are able to vote whether that is in person or not, unfortunately we have very strict walls on mail-in ballots, but there is no state law that prohibits our county clerks from mailing those applications for a mail-in ballot whether you’re eligible or not And so it’s still kind of in limbo right now as you know we near the November election. I know Pennsylvania is actually currently legislating around this issue Representative Mackenzie you want to share kind of an update on what’s happening in Harrisburg? Yeah, absolutely. So I mean I always feel like elections and voting is one of these interesting topics where there is a state-federal dynamic, so we’re all dealing with federal elections coming up, yet at the same time most of the ground rules are laid out at the state level. And so, we’ve heard this whole spectrum of options available from full mail voting to rather you know only with excuse voting in Texas. And so here in Pennsylvania we’re making a transition as well Last year we did authorize no excuse vote-by-mail and so that is a new element that’s come into effect this year in Pennsylvania and for the first time that occurred in our primary which we actually delayed from April and we moved the primary back to June 2nd because of coronavirus and COVID-19 there has been a much greater adoption of vote by mail than I think anybody expected, and so now we’re wrestling with how you handle that huge influx of mail-in votes in addition to allowing for the option to vote in person on election day so people have those two options

in place. And so we are going back in session next week to actually address this issue and try to sort out some of the kinks from the primary and so really it falls into three buckets the issues that we’re dealing with the first is around deadlines which the senator from florida talked about is the deadline in the office by election day which is how it stands in the law now or should there be some other deadline a postmark etc uh you know that gets tricky though uh because again we do want the results as quickly to election night as possible and at the same time uh the governor here has allowed for pre uh stamped envelopes to be mailed out for the ballots but oftentimes at least in our system uh the federal uh postal service here in pennsylvania they don’t affix a postmark to pre-stamped mail and so that’s created a problem where you say well you can’t maybe have that you do maybe have to stick to the deadline of election day so that’s something that’s going to be coming up next week in the legislative session the second item is around pre-canvasing or what we call pre-canvassing so sorting of the ballots uh before they get counted on election day how do you uh allow that to occur and what time frame does that occur before the election so that again as much of that work of opening up a return envelope opening up about envelope uh unfolding the ballots flattening them out scanning them through uh and then leading up to the final step of tabulation that’s when you have tens of thousands of ballots in counties obviously that can take a long time and so uh there’s discussion around how soon we want to allow for that to occur before election day uh some of that pre-canvassing work so that again you can have a result as close to election night as possible and the third and final kind of big area uh which was already discussed is around drop-off locations drop boxes uh or other sites that allow and accept ballots and so right now it’s only that you can send it through the mail to back to the county voter registration office or you can drop it off in person at that office uh some groups are playing with the ideas of different drop boxes and you know how that works and so again there are concerns around chain of custody just who’s monitoring drop boxes we don’t allow for ballot harvesting here in pennsylvania so an individual has to return it in the mail or in person and so we want to try to maintain the integrity of that process uh and so but we do want to expand options so right now the things that we’re discussing are some of the other options that people have talked about where you could allow for let’s say election day uh to allow polling places to collect all of those mail ballots and so that would alleviate the burden of waiting in line a lot of people and polling places in pennsylvania do you have lines on election day and they can be quite long so this would alleviate that you could still drop it off in your neighborhood or in your community but you would basically just pull up you know drop it off and you could go so you won’t have to wait for an hour or something uh in in line so those are kind of the three main policy areas that we’re dealing with uh but at the same time we’re under a pretty tight deadline of getting it done as we get ready for the november election so again that’s actually going to be taking place next week here in pennsylvania where we go back in session to discuss and try to iron out some of those policy decisions wow short runway for big issues that’s for sure um okay so you all are elected and you all have mastered campaigning how do you campaign in a pandemic what’s the biggest change that you’ve seen either personally or amongst your peers i know senator flores is unfortunately terming out but raising money door knocking communicating breaking through the clutter of a pandemic uh each of you may be the one thing that you’ve learned um as a as in a candidate or an elected official during a coven senator kitchen you want to lead us off sure so i’m i’m lucky that i’m not up for re-election this year so i get to support all my favorite candidates and various ballot initiatives around the state um but you’re right you know campaigning is a completely different animal in the 2020 cycle with covet and you know there’s a lot of interest among the general public on politics right now naturally um but it you know the traditional ways of engaging are off the table you can’t really knock on doors you can’t hold big rallies so we’ve had to be really creative with the way that we engage social media is something that you cannot get away from and so really well-produced content on social media is definitely something i’ve been encouraging all of my fellow candidates to to put a lot of their time and and resources into uh but you know nothing beats the phone just picking up the telephone and calling your voters getting your voter list engaging with donors um you know while we are in the middle of a really historic uh economic crisis

frankly there are still people in our community that have resources and are interested in you know putting dollars and cents behind causes that matter to them and so you know i’ve been encouraging to to continue to fundraise um and to do their best to communicate you know a campaign comes down to calms and so the better that you can be at you know communicating your values and what you intend to do uh the better so it’s a different world but it’s not impossible uh just a little impersonal yeah representative mckenzie i know you’re on the ballot come november what are you learning as you go yeah so you know i i feel like it’s not too dissimilar from lots of other walks of life you know whether it be returning to schools or businesses or like i mentioned in state government and voting there basically has been a transition and nobody is going back to doing things totally normal and the way that they used to be done so really if you have option a is normal option b is hybrid and option three is totally virtual um basically people are choosing from those last two options so it’s are you doing some kind of hybrid or a totally virtual campaign and i think that’s kind of the fundamental decision that campaigns are making here first uh which which of those options are you going to go to and then once you do those your uh different ways to communicate and and talk to voters kind of fall into different buckets so you know you do see hybrid uh models emerging where there are socially distance events where people are outside and wearing masks and even doing you know some doors and other activities that way in a safe and responsible way so you see some of that is returning in certain parts of the state in certain areas and certain campaigns and then other campaigns are choosing to just go the totally virtual route and so you’ll see in those models a lot more of at home phone banking or facebook live events like this etc so you see again i think uh you have to start with those though that fundamental decision and then within that you have your options kind of laid out of of which direction you want to go and um so that’s kind of where it’s at in pennsylvania and i think that’s going to continue for at least this election season and maybe more representative hernandez what are you saying thankfully i am on the ballot but i’m unopposed but i have attended multiple uh zoom fundraising events for colleagues and for other candidates locally it seems like everyone’s having a zoom fundraiser so you kind of need to you know something catchy to get people’s attentions i’ve seen celebrities you know actors you know singers that have been a special guest to kind of you know as a hook to get more people engaged and zoom fundraisers and town halls and in texas the weather’s been nice and so we try to do as many outdoor events as we can you know being socially distant having food drive or a mass drive or a back to backpack distribution we actually partnering with some of our local officials tomorrow to have one in houston so having outdoor events to you know still be engaged in the community in a safe way that we’re socially nice and for our term limited friend well hey it’s it’s in trends great time to not be on the bathroom just kidding um it’s uh so we had as i mentioned in august um so just two uh two weeks ago um a big primary and difficulty for state legislative offices you know i had a lot of friends that were on the ballot and they did a little bit of kind of what everyone here is is talking about um one of the things that i was was very encouraged to see is um a lot of focus on on responding to the needs of the community um so you know we’ve had you know initial crisis um you know with our unemployment system as i’m sure happened in other states but in florida was uh you know particularly hard and crashed and the system and so you know we had folks at the beginning that were um you know making sure that um that they had the unemployment application in a easy to get to um you know people a lot of people need food um so there’s been a lot of partnerships with food distributions um with some of our um you know with local food banks type of things um and it’s here we are five months into the pandemic and there are still hundreds of people showing up every single day to food distributions in areas of my district that are being um spearheaded by by different elected officials or people that are seeking office um the same thing goes for mass distribution so again i mean kind of doing the things that we have always done but um but modifying it in a way that we can respond to people’s immediate needs and and having to be sensitive right

because you know it’s a tough time for everybody it is a tough time particularly for those that that have um financial challenges um so there are financial challenges there are food challenges um there’s work life challenges there’s mental health challenges and so i think coming up with creative ways to to still ask voters for support but the difference is and i think this is a little bit to senator kitchen’s point is that i find that the electorate is much more engaged um they ask the questions and they want their candidates and they certainly want the incumbents to answer the question okay well look kovid’s going to be around for another forever right how are we going to live with this this is this is not the two-week crisis that we thought it was how are we going to deal with fixing major problems that we have with our unemployment system to give an example in florida and it’s something quite frankly that we knew was always a problem we didn’t really have to deal with it and now we have to really deal with it and so it’s um you know i found that certainly people are still campaigning um we still have a lot of people knocking doors um it’s uh you know socially they stand away and giving out masks um but um you know people when they’re knocking on the door and they’re asking questions they’re asking the tough questions and they’re expecting people to have their you know have an answer real answers the right answer so what i’m hearing is personal outreach the phone is still your friend technology and the hook on zoom and the third was representative mckenzie’s just safety but but the hybrid model maybe the the shuffle to election day is kind of the the three themes i’m hearing from how to get through to november um okay so we get through november and we’re standing in january and i know all of your legislative sessions start at different marks in a year but just assuming that the start of the year is is when all of the states come back together and legislatures are back in the capitals i guess it’s a two-part question one how do we to your point center kitchen have public input and healthy legislative processes and dialogue so that our solutions are are inclusive of voices stakeholders industry i mean all the folks that gather in the capital physically typically what does it physically look like in january how do you take those inputs how do your offices interact with with the myriad of voices impacting legislative considerations and also what are you championing championing what are the policy trends that will emerge out of this time um so i guess i’ll i’ll go back to texas first what is what does it look like after your two-year hiatus i know you guys are well we’re still working on it we got a survey about a month ago and the results just came out for all of the members both in the house and senate to kind of give their input on what they would like the legislative session to look like in terms of safety protocols uh like i mentioned we only meet every other year so this is our interim period where we normally have interim committee hearings but those haven’t taken place uh either at the capitol or remote here a capital is still closed so we’re know as you know everything’s available in texas and you know it had been mentioned earlier about having space well there’s definitely space at the capitol but whether or not we want just the people that work there that need to be there that need to testify uh whether we want any visitors on the house floor whether all 150 of us because there are 150 state representatives in texas if all 150 plus the essential staff are going to be in one chamber or how we’re going to do that so it’s still in the works and uh now we have a couple of months before session starts so we said looking at other uh legislatures and see what has worked for them and before i turn what policy considerations do you think will just emerge from this pandemic from your perspective i know we’re going to talk a little later about health care but i think the expansion of medicaid i think is more important than ever texas is only one of 12 states that has not expanded medicaid and we’ve seen what impact that had that the disparate impact has had in our communities and then education as well i mean there’s been a lot of confusion as you know schools were getting ready to go back to school whether or not they would lose funding for not having in-class instruction and so i think those are two very important issues as we continue to

move forward you know with covid what does it look like in utah in january that’s a good question um you know we’ve obviously done this hybrid model the last couple of special sessions i’m expecting another special session in october with kovid we just don’t know i mean it’s a day by day week by week kind of situation but we are starting to contemplate what a general session in january may look like no formal action has yet been taken however the capital is still closed to the general public so even when we’re meeting in this hybrid model uh whether it’s our committee meeting or actual formal votes on the floor we’re not seeing lobbyists we’re not seeing the general public available in person on our committee meetings we have begun to do a digital we have a digital platform for uh constituent engagement and public comment uh which is it’s great to be able to continue to solicit that kind of feedback from the general public but it’s way less effective than somebody coming to a committee meeting in person and providing that kind of feedback and so i hope just for the sake of being responsive to the general public that we’re able to bring people back in even if we have to schedule them or you know figure out a way to get them and their face sort of piped in you know digitally in some in some some way uh but again it’s to be determined um the press is another important piece of meeting in person and how do we allow you know the press to come and be safe and not bring you know public health issues with them and so we’ve begun allowing various members of the press photographers certain reporters into the capitol during these hybrid sessions uh things like temperature checks um obviously masks you know we’ve been uh partitioning certain areas off so that you know various members of the press have their own little box to stay within we’re trying to be as creative as possible but it’s definitely an imperfect uh set of solutions that we’re playing around with right now so i’ll be sure to um communicate with this group here as we approach our general session just with what we’re thinking and i’d love to hear feedback from others as well along the way senator flores you i know that you won’t be there in january in your current uh capacity but i know that you and i were talking about about it before this call that you know florida is a mega state but your state capitol was not built in mega state size i mean your your physical structures you’ve got the mirrors or you’re turning the corner and you’ve got an onslaught of people always in your in your capital in tallahassee you know any indications on how that will be safe and and still open for access yeah well you know i think that we’re we’re all dealing with the same things that everybody else is but here’s um here’s where where my hope comes in is that you know we now know that kovid will be around in one way or another for a very long time um and until there is a widespread vaccine um you know everything from football games to kids my kids eight-year-old’s birthday party um and everything in between ha you have to rethink how you’re going to do it so here’s what my hope is is that we don’t waste the next kind of three or four months before session um happens like we and i don’t want to say we wasted the first couple of months of the crisis because we just know it was gonna last this long but now i know now we know it’s something that’s for a while so i think that there will be enough data points available um that we’ve collected through you know we see when the spikes happen right it’s happened after memorial day after fourth of july schools are starting here are we gonna start to see a spike happen after fourth of july after after school starting and if we do is that spike less than the one that we saw say after a fourth of july because our schools opened in a in a you know in a more responsible way right so what i mean to say by all that is you know look we have enough time between now and january to figure out okay what are some of the things that we know will work right we know that having a temperature check um that’s going to work we know that um having your hand sanitizing station every set couple of feet will work you know i’ll give you an interesting florida antidote right so um people everyone goes to disney world and um people are so um you know when you go to disney world you one of the things you’re always excited about you know it’s just so clean right i mean how do they keep disney world so clean with so many people there just pre-corona um and that’s because um experts from you know that hired by disney figured out if you put a garbage can every x number of feet i think the number is 10 people will throw their garbage out right if you put it 12 feet but not

they’re gonna throw it on the floor my point is if we can put you know a hand sanitizing station every four or five feet people are going to use it if you figure out how you make your committee hearing time last longer so that people can come in and be scheduled you know we’re dealing with this like i said with schools now um you know my kids are they’re starting virtually right now um hopefully they’ll be in person soon and when they are in person they were figuring out ways that only part of the kids are in school one day and the next day there’s another cohort and maybe we’ll do it one week on and one week off um and they’ll still be getting taught um virtually on the off time um point is look where there’s a will there’s a way and the most important thing and this is a very acypl type statement if we don’t worry about whose idea was right if it was a republican idea or whoever was if we just worry about like hey we want to be safe then we can actually do this and we can you know we can govern and we can have people come in and speak because that’s something that’s that’s absolutely crucial you know having that vibe of 15 people coming in and all of a sudden speak against or for a bill maybe we thought wasn’t going to be controversial but now of the unintended consequences because someone came in and talked to us i think we have to figure out a way and if we want to we can figure out a way of how to do it and do it safely i just loved that representative mckenzie in pennsylvania what does january look like yeah so maybe because we are a full-time legislature and we’ve been meeting this whole time were possibly a little further along in the process than some others so we already again mostly are meeting in person again individuals can choose to vote remotely as members but at the same time uh hearings are open to the public again members of the public and press are able uh to be there but you can just see uh that many are are opting not to do that because hearings are now online all online and testifiers can be there virtually as well a lot more people are just choosing that route so you do just see less people in the audience at these meetings so people can space out more appropriately etc so that’s that’s great and you know meeting virtually has also allowed for testifiers to come in from around the country uh who we might not have had be able to come and testify before so in that respect it’s actually opened up the dialogue and discussion a little bit and you know from a meeting standpoint when constituents or individuals from certain groups are looking to meet with you it’s also been freeing for us to be able to do zoom calls or virtual calls like this because for instance i had a meeting this morning with a chamber of commerce it would have taken me an hour to drive there an hour to drive back to do that breakfast meeting at the same time they had a great system set up uh where we could have a good open discussion you could have small group uh dialogues as well uh and at the same time it cut out two hours of travel time for my schedule that i was then freed up to do other meetings with with other uh individuals so you know i think you’re going to start to see again this hybrid model adopted going forward in the legislature legislative process as well uh which i think is a great thing at the same time you know i think some others have mentioned it there is no replacement for in-person meetings and so i think as much as possible people do want to get back to that that’s just going to be dependent upon the virus and and when you can actually do those things because um so much of our legislative work as was mentioned i think by senator kitchen occurs just in the casual conversations before or after a hearing or in the hallway or you bump into somebody and you know something comes to mind that you’d been meaning to talk to them about so all those casual informal interactions do play a large part in the legislative process and there’s just no replicating that virtually so you know again i think there are some benefits that i think are going to be worn out in the coming years but at the same time as much as possible getting back to the the in-person meeting i think is going to be beneficial for legislating in pennsylvania we may become more efficient in our meetings so that we save commute times in a center floor as being from my miami area i didn’t want to get caught in traffic there was some some expediency to the type of meetings you’re talking about represent mckenzie but but there is no replacing the sausage making that happens in person so um we’ve got a couple more minutes um before we sign off in terms of those policy trends things that will be on your docket come

january in the spring things that will be forever changed in the public policy world senator kitchen what do you see in terms of i know you’re a small business owner you’ve got considerations coming from that angle but what do you see his long-term changes policy-wise you know um i think kova taught us one thing which is the more resilient and prepared for the unexpected the better off we can all be so it’s hard to say exactly what to anticipate with regard to future legislation but no doubt with regard to our current economic situation and the status of the federal government and we’re going to be talking about covet 19 for many many years to come with regard to small business uh we want to make sure that we can preserve as many businesses as possible so uh obviously through the cares act and the federal dollars that have come to our state we have really focused on trying to provide a steady a stabilizing force for a lot of these independent uh and independently operated businesses all kinds of rental relief programs um we rolled out a sort of a buy one get one sort of approach to incentivize additional spending because so much of our state budget is dependent on sales taxes so you know we’re just trying to make sure that people and businesses in particular are as stable as possible and that we can keep our historically low unemployment rate as low as possible we’re at about 5.1 right now if i’m not mistaken which is pretty decent for you know all things considered but there’s a lot that we need to do and i’m anxious to get going on some of these policy measures as a business owner and somebody who’s involved deeply in the hospitality industry making sure that we can accept people from outside of the state of utah even internationally we want them to come here and spend their resources of course so all kinds of legislation pertaining to hospitality and and entertainment is going to be really important uh but you know i’m sad to say that i i do expect to see more and more businesses uh shut their doors permanently as much as i hate to say it um people are you know businesses are struggling in the state um and i i fear for you know what the next couple months are going to look like so um yeah it’s hard to say but you know as as we move forward making sure that we can keep people stable is our key jefferson mckenzie i know you’re a workforce guru how are the work how will the workforce forever change yeah so i think the the nature of work for people really depends on what type of job you have and what i mean by that is you know you hear from some individuals who are in maybe an information economy type job or a white-collar job the the benefits we’ve talked about the reduction in commute and being able to work from home being able to be with your family more these are all benefits for some individual workers but we also have to realize uh that covet 19 is having a different impact on on lots of different people as well and so frontline workers teachers healthcare professionals people in food service industries they’re having a very different experience and so we have to be really cognizant of that and when we’re looking at the nature of work i think we have to realize all those different facets that are going on out there how it impacts them and and how we want to change and adjust work and work environments for those people so uh that’s something that i think is going to be discussed uh you know you’re certainly starting to hear these discussions around liability coverage and around who can collect unemployment comp excuses for voting uh etc so you know you can see how that impact from from covid19 is playing out and is going to start playing out in workforce environments as well and so i think the future of work is changing it’s been shifting the trend is not going is going to continue and i think covet 19 is going to really have an impact on that so that that’s uh going to be a hot topic i think for us in pennsylvania going forward yeah senator flores i know your kids are also with you today in school as you’re in this conversation what does education look like in florida and for the world moving forward well it um i hope i think one of the uh the silver linings or maybe not silver linings but things that we’ve learned all of us is um the importance of patience um i think we’re as professionals people are more patient with each other um because either you have a kid at home or or you know that you know your co-worker has a kid at home i think it teaches our kids patients um because they’re having to uh to sit there and and listen and engage with the teacher in a way that’s different um and and our teachers i have to say i mean have have done just such an absolutely amazing job of how really in florida um from one day to the next um you know

they just they just figured out how to completely change the delivery system so um as i as i kind of take a step back from from elected office and maybe watch it from from the background for for a little bit um i hope to i hope that that we use this opportunity as a way to really innovate in education um and and recognize the things that you know representative mckenzie mentioned with the workforce there is a very real digital divide um across our country certainly across our state um there we we should know all the schools should know by now which of their students have access to um to devices or have access to internet and which are the ones that don’t have access to those devices and internet and i would argue that it is absolutely incumbent upon legislatures to invest in that technology um and and you know we’re always talking about more money for education um and and i think that we now have you know the opportunity and i think the obligation to absolutely make sure that every child has access to a device has access to a stable internet connection and i can tell you that um it is possible again just like i said before listen if you want to figure out a way to do it you can because um you know while not the norm across florida there are certain counties in certain school districts that have done an excellent job of ensuring that every student no matter economic background has that device has you know everything from the computer to the earphones to the internet so they they have found a way to make it work um and some other counties haven’t and we can debate as to why they have or have not but i can tell you from personal experience and professional experience that they we can figure out a way to do that um because you know we talk a lot about the um you know there’s been a lot of conversation last couple months of kind of this coveted slide of of students regressing um i see there is an incredible opportunity for students to catch up but it’s incumbent upon us as the legislators and as the policymakers to give the students and the school districts the the things that they need um both the hardware the software the you know the the digital infrastructure because whether we like it or not you know covet 19 is is the crisis of of today but there will be a crisis that will happen at some point within the next few years that will cause us to have to be remote learning again it may be a hurricane um you know as we’re you know dealing with in in texas and louisiana um it could be you know who knows what it could be a a you know some some other you know international issue but this will happen again and we we don’t want to look three years from now and say oh man we should have done it during coronavirus um and so i’m i’m hopeful that as i kind of take a step back that certainly in my state that we we invest heavily in in that in that infrastructure and that hardware for our students so it’s been a year of crises but it started with a health one so to your point representative hernandez how do we come out of this with better and more improved health systems for all like i mentioned earlier yes health care is at the forefront as we returned for a legislative session in texas he has not expanded medicaid mentioned we’re one of 12 states that has not so in my opinion we’re leaving dollars on the table and also this is impacting our communities in different ways and we have five million texans without health care coverage should we expand medicaid 1.5 million of them would have coverage we also have people losing their jobs those injured jobs you know uh from businesses that are closing you know other other reasons and with that their health care coverage that goes along with their employment so that’s a very important issue as we try to to get this virus uh you know under control and make sure that we have testing we want to make sure that our community doesn’t hear fearful or about the cost or about going to get testing because that we need to have them tested and so those are all issues that are important to our community important to individuals and i hope we’ve got our work cut out i hope that our next legislative session we joined the other 38 states and expanding medicaid thank you maggie if i can you know one uh additional point i think you know we we deal with a lot of these policy areas

health care jobs in the economy education and state government all the time and now we’re dealing with new facets and new new variables because of of covet 19 but one thing that i think has really percolated to the top here in pennsylvania is going to be about the balance of power between the legislature and the governor and so we have divided government here in pennsylvania and you know there has been a lot of discussion around how much authority should be given to the governor you know i think everybody agrees that at the early stages of an emergency you do want to have fast action from an executive uh but then once things play out for a longer period of time there does need to be some balance restored uh to the the legislative process and the governing process at the state level and so you know the example of what happened here in pennsylvania from a practical level was immediately uh there was a lot of bipartisan effort collaborative effort with the governor and the legislature around health decisions uh increased funding for ppe going out etc uh now that it’s been playing out for a longer period of time with all of the power uh we have a strong executive here in pennsylvania all of the power residing at that level business decisions about opening and closing uh real estate and construction we were one of the last states in the country to allow those to go back online right now we have very restrictive rules around restaurants in place all handed down by the governor and without the input from the legislature so i think as we move forward there’s going to be a very robust discussion around how do we restore that balance of power so that as we’ve talked about you know you want to have the input from the public you want to have uh inputs from different stakeholders in this decision-making process and right now i think that’s lacking here in pennsylvania so trying to maintain and restore that is going to be something that we’re going to have to really wrestle with as we head forward and it will be interesting to see in early 2021 if there are more states that actually have divided government because right now you are in the minority of states that actually have divided political but we believe in all three branches here at csg so we wish you the best in trying to navigate those those uh waters cinder kitchen i’m going to connect you with mary tinkler a south uh carolina county treasurer she has a specific question for you on uh tax tax issues that you’ve worked on in utah during the special sessions but we are out of time as we probably imagined we were gonna try and get through a lot today thank you to all of you for your insights and perspectives um you are wonderful representations of the acypl community thank you to acypl for existing and for serving your alumni community during this time and thank you to everyone who tuned in this afternoon for this discussion i hope that it was helpful whether you come from the private sector the public sector local federal or state government it’s a very rich community and we all love to see it are the acypl family so thank you for being a part of it and to our state elected leaders thank you for your leadership but especially during this time so have a great weekend and it’s been fun and i appreciate you all thanks everyone thank you bye take care thank you

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