Democrats Say Legislature Unprepared For Session Amid COVID-19

Nov 17, 2020

Lawmakers on the House floor for the ceremonial beginning of session were spaced out and wearing masks.
Credit Darron Cummings / Associated Press

Democrats say the General Assembly is not prepared to safely conduct its legislative session in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislative leaders say they haven’t decided on any COVID-19 testing or screening procedures for lawmakers during session. They also haven’t determined a threshold for when the session might need to shut down temporarily because of positive cases.

Leaders said Tuesday members won’t be allowed to participate in committee hearings virtually. And Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said lawmakers must be in-person to vote on legislation.

“We think that it could be a bit of a slippery slope to go down that path," Huston said. "Obviously, our interest is allowing members to do as much as possible.”

READ MORE: Republicans Reject Indiana House Mask Mandate

Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) says lawmakers aren’t prepared for the realities of a session amid COVID-19.

“I think the leadership just wants to do the bare minimum and still go ahead and proceed with session,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford also told reporters she had just found out she was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. However, she hadn’t yet left the Statehouse to quarantine.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.