Gov. John Bel Edwards said Tuesday the special session should be limited to 10-14 days, not up to 30 days as the Louisiana Legislature is planning, and be restricted to about five topics rather than the 70 on the House and Senate agenda.

"That is part of the issue," Edwards told reporters. "You call a special session and have 70 objects. That is a regular session."

The governor also said it would make no sense for the Legislature to impose restrictions on his ability to spell out rules on restaurants, bars and public gatherings in the battle against the coronavirus. "You can't respond to a public health emergency by committee," Edwards said.

Edwards is a Democrat and the Legislature is controlled by Republicans.

Legislative leaders on Monday announced they were calling legislators into a special session starting next Monday, Sept. 28, to deal with issues on the coronavirus pandemic, shoring up Louisiana's battered Unemployment Trust Fund, and to respond to Hurricane Laura, among other topics.

The gathering can last until 6 p.m. Oct. 27.

Senate President Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, said while the 70-item list of items in the call is "expansive," lawmakers wanted to give themselves plenty of flexibility.

House Speaker Clay Schexnayder, R-Gonzales, pointedly said a significant number of House members believe the governor's rules to combat the virus represent "an imbalance of power."

"This special session will not end without a solution to this problem," Schexnayder said Monday.

Edwards said the state Constitution clearly invests him with the authority to take steps during a public health emergency and he has no intention of surrendering it. "I don't think they are going to be successful in doing that," he said.

Edwards also said his critics have never spelled out specifically what they object to in his anti-virus measures.

The governor announced earlier this month that the state was moving to Phase 3 for the reopening of its economy, which allows businesses, restaurants and churches to operate at 75% of capacity.

Restrictions on bars and other areas remain.

State officials Tuesday reported 730 new cases of the coronavirus, including 571 hospitalizations.

Edwards said on Aug. 21 the state reported more than 1,000 state residents were hospitalized with the virus.

"We have made considerable progress in the past month or so," he said.

The gathering will mark the second special session of the year called by the Legislature.

The first one ended just ahead of the start of the new financial year on July 1, including approval of a state operating budget, after the 2020 regular session was interrupted by the early stages of the pandemic.

Edwards and legislative leaders agree that action is needed on the fund that pays for weekly unemployment benefits.

It has dwindled from about $800 million earlier this year to around $90 million today amid skyrocketing unemployment claims sparked by the pandemic.

Edwards said the best solution would be for Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that includes aid for state and local governments, including flexibility on how to use the dollars.

"That would be the best thing that could happen," he said.

However, any such agreement is considered unlikely because of partisan bickering ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Edwards said another option would be for the state to use remaining portions of its share of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act to help shore up the Unemployment Trust Fund.

Borrowing from the federal government is another option.

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