JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — State legislatures across the country will be convening in 2021 with a common theme at the center of their work. The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to shape both their budget and policy debates. The executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures says he expects lawmakers in over half the states to push back against the executive powers of governors and health officials who have imposed restrictions during the pandemic. Lawmakers also will consider increased spending on social services and public health initiatives because of the virus, although revenue has weakened in a number of states.

In WA and OR, both states ring in the new year and their legislative sessions under lockdowns and restrictions. In WA., Gov. Inslee wants to spend hundreds of millions on everything from an Office of Equity to building an electric ferry. He also wishes for a low carbon fuel tax that would raise the price per gallon a mimimum of $.12-15 cents per gallon. This, on top of continuing to strangle the economy (especially small business) while offering only trickles of economic relief.

In OR, Gov. Brown extended their state of emergency through March 1st, showing no signs of the economy or life returning to any state of normalcy. Facing both states is the challenge for the GOP, as Democrats have varied sizes of majorities, and GOP leaders will have to strongly persuade the moderate Democrats to join them in resisting many of the expensive proposals being put out by both Governors.

The legislative session in WA begins January 11.