2021 Legislature will start mostly virtually due to COVID-19
The upcoming legislative session set to kick off next month will be closed to the general public, with only lawmakers, essential staff and a limited number of media members being allowed in the building due to COVID-19 concerns, the head of the agency that serves lawmakers said Thursday.
Brenda Erdoes, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the usual festivities that accompany the start of the session, which begins on Feb. 1, will not happen this year in order for the building to stay in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 regulations on public gatherings.
Erdoes said that people wishing to participate in the committee hearings virtually will be done via reservation through the Legislature’s website, utilizing Zoom videoconferencing.
For people looking to have their voice heard during public comment, Erdoes said that will happen via telephone or by videoconference at designated sites that are still being developed at various locations across the state.
Individual videoconference meetings with lawmakers will also be permitted via Microsoft Teams, Erdoes said.
There will also be a weekly COVID-19 testing protocol for lawmakers, staff and news media for as long as the building is closed to the public.
“After Legislators and essential staff have received both COVID-19 vaccinations, the Legislature will initiate a plan to begin opening the Legislative Building to members of the Public and registered Lobbyists to participate in committee hearings in person, by reservation through the Legislature’s Website,” Erdoes said.
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