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Old Format, New Problem: Biennial Legislatures Face COVID-19

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — In 1960, 31 state legislatures met every other year.

But as the role of state government has grown increasingly complex, more and more states have abandoned the format. Today, the biennial legislature is mostly a vestige of a bygone era, remaining in just four states: Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas.

In each of these states, calls to convene the Legislature annually have stalled in the past without gaining much traction.

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But the coronavirus pandemic and its unprecedented challenges have amplified calls to update the format and sparked concerns about executive power from Democratic and Republican state lawmakers.