Second Special Session begins today 
The Louisiana Legislature begins its second special session of 2020 today at 6 p.m. and will adjourn in just over four weeks by Oct. 27. The session call lists a total of 70 items that can be discussed, but lawmakers have identified three priorities for the session: Hurricane Laura disaster relief and recovery efforts, ongoing issues with the pandemic and the state's Unemployment Trust Fund.

While only about 30 bills have been filed at this point, more are expected within the next two weeks. Committee hearings will begin this week with the House hearing bills on the floor as early as Friday. 

Late last week, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to the Senate president and speaker of the House requesting that the legislature use this session to reallocate $175 million in unspent funds in the Main Street Recovery Grant Program. Earlier this year, the legislature created this program by allocating $275 million of federal CARES Act relief funds for economic support of small businesses through the Louisiana Department of Treasury.

Edwards’ proposal is to allocate $75 million in funding to the state’s unemployment trust fund, $75 million to local governments most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and $25 million in grants for businesses closed in phases two and three of Louisiana’s COVID response, such as bars.  
Federal update
  • With so much focus on the upcoming federal election and Supreme Court confirmation hearings, it is unlikely that comprehensive relief legislation will come together in Washington prior to Election Day. However, we continue to work with our national and regional partners to press Congress for the expansion of the Paycheck Protection Program, including expanding eligibility to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) of all statuses and sizes, extending the program through the end of 2020 and allowing the most hard-hit companies to obtain a second loan if needed.

  • Last week, two senators introduced a bill that would provide an additional $28 billion in aid to airlines. Current airline aid is due to expire on Oct. 1, and airlines have warned of mass layoffs and furloughs if additional aid is not secured before then.

  • The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has unanimously passed the Visit America Act (S. 3831). The bill would set a visitation goal of 116 million annual international travelers to the U.S. by 2028, formally authorize the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and create a high-ranking position within the U.S. Department of Commerce focused on coordinating a travel and tourism strategy across multiple federal agencies.

  • America's borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed for non-essential travel through Oct. 21 in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
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If you haven’t already, be sure to email madeline@louisianatravelassociation.org to sign up to receive all of our Legislative Alerts. As legislators file bills and specific topics jump to the forefront, we will update you through these emails in the coming weeks.