Happy New Year’s to everyone. I sure hope we have a better year than last year. The 67th legislative session started this week, with many changes to get used to. Less access to the chamber, to committee rooms and to legislators will be the new normal for this year. All new rooms have been assigned to accommodate social distance during committee hearings, with a mask mandate required when social distance is not possible. Masks will also be required from ½ hour before floor session to ½ hour after session. Half of the legislators will be assigned to other areas of the building when the chamber is not in session to also provide greater separation.
The rules also recommend that legislators and legislative branch employees complete a daily health self-assessment before going to the Capitol. Individuals entering the building will be required to submit to a temperature screening, and anyone with a reading of 100.4 degrees or greater or who is experiencing virus symptoms may be turned away. Anyone who feels that it is better to participate virtually will be able to do that with the new technology changes that were implemented with CARES Act dollars allocated to the state to deal with COVID-19 issues. Legislators will now be able to participate and vote to any committee hearing and floor session virtually if that is necessary.
The location of committee rooms will be different for the 2021 session. Smaller rooms will not be used, and four new rooms have been developed in the Judicial Wing on the east side of the Capitol. One room will be on the second floor of the J-Wing, and three new rooms will be located on the third floor. The House Appropriations Committee will meet in the spacious Brynhild Haugland Room, and Senate Appropriations will use the Roughrider Room, which the House committee will have vacated. All committee hearings will be live streamed via the internet, and recordings of the meetings will be archived on the legislative website.
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