Lawmakers say the 2021 session in pandemic age will be like no other
Lawmakers will convene Monday in Olympia for the first day of the 2021 session, which will be like no other legislative session in state history. John Sattgast reports.
SATTGAST: As the National Guard stands behind fences surrounding the Capitol building, only lawmakers, few staff, and some press will be allowed inside – all wearing masks and socially distanced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
After today, the Capitol building will remain closed through the 105-day session. Most lawmakers will return to their homes and log in remotely as committee meetings and voting will be conducted through computer programs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
House Republican Transportation Budget Leader Andrew Barkis admits it will be challenging to negotiate budgets in a virtual setting.
BARKIS: “It's very difficult to have committee meetings, budget negotiations, high level staff meetings via Zoom. You have to be able to look at the nuances of what's going on in that room.”
SATTGAST: Only 30 House members – 15 handpicked from each caucus – will stay in their Olympia offices – isolated to only attend virtual meetings and vote online. No guests. No staff. No in-person meetings.
Citizens may testify online and reach their lawmakers by telephone and email.
John Sattgast, Olympia.
###Washington State House Republican Communications
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