INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)-Monday was the first day of the Legislative session for the Indiana General assembly, where COVID-19 safety protocols were in full effect.
"I was very impressed both by the senators on both sides of the aisle on how serious they are taking COVID and how serious their responsibility is to respect others," said Republican state Senator Ron Alting who represents District 22.
The Senate is convening in its normal area of the statehouse but will be spread out on the chamber's floor with two-fifths of the body seated in the upstairs gallery. As for members of the house, they are meeting in a different area.
"We are in a very large conference room in the government center south. And we are at individual tables giving us about 6 feet of social distancing space," said Democratic Representative Chris Campbell who serves district 26.
Other changes include how often lawmakers will meet.
"We are only going to be meeting in session 1 time a week versus three times a week which would be in a normal session and then the committees will meet," added Representative Campbell.
While that change may cause delays, one issue lawmakers were quick to address was business protections for COVID-19. However, Senator Ron Alting says that the bill will do more than help businesses.
"It's also for school corporations in Indiana and Universities," added Senator Alting. "It's something that is needed to protect our school corporations and so forth it's a long laundry list of entities that this protects."
While Democrats are focusing on fully funding schools and making sure COVID relief dollars are going to businesses that need it, safety at the statehouse does remain a priority. Especially since some say not all lawmakers are following proper protocol.
"Throughout the statehouse, there are several people that are not wearing masks even though the governor's mandate would be covering that area it's definitely not being enforced," said representative Campbell.
If a lawmaker tests positive for COVID-19, they must let the speaker of the house know and they are advised to quarantine.. but their positive case will not be made public. However, lawmakers will have to cast their votes in person. If they have COVID-19 or are quarantined during the time of a vote they will not be able to take part in the decision.
The only way a vote would be postponed is if either the house or senate didn’t have a quorum. Both the house and the senate must have at least 2/3 of its members present to vote. To read a list of bills that have been filed click here.