The Potluck

DFL, GOP lawmakers announce different COVID precautions for upcoming legislative session

By: - January 28, 2022 1:07 pm

The Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul as the sun sets on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Photo by Tony Webster.

The DFL-led House and Republican-led Senate outlined divergent approaches to how each chamber will work during the upcoming legislative session, which starts Monday.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, issued a memo Friday saying they will continue to limit public access to the House chamber and lawmakers’ offices. 

“Only elected members of the House and House staff essential to daily proceedings will be allowed on the House floor during session,” the memo reads.

Reporters will be relegated to the House gallery. Additionally, masks will be required on the House floor.

Before the pandemic, credentialed journalists could be on the House floor during session, allowing reporters access to lawmakers during lengthy floor debates. The House will also continue conducting committee hearings virtually.

Minnesota is in the middle of a surge of COVID-19 infections driven by the omicron variant, which has prompted new COVID-19 measures in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including vaccination requirements for indoor dining and a requirement that masks be worn in public places. The city mandates do not apply to the Legislature.

The Senate, meanwhile, will hold hybrid hearings, allowing for both remote and in-person participation. The Minnesota Senate Building will also be partially open to the public, according to a memo from Senate Secretary Cal Ludeman. 

“We will continue to monitor all developments in the coming months, however, despite the uncertainty, we are determined to provide the people of Minnesota the right to participate in the legislative process as easily as possible,” Ludeman wrote.

The Senate will allow for remote voting for lawmakers who choose not to participate in person. Masks will be recommended, but not required. And reporters will have access to the Senate floor during the session.

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.