INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)- Lawmakers will not be required to wear masks at the ceremonial start of the session next week and possibly for all of the upcoming session which starts in January. This comes as COVID-19 continues to ravage through the state of Indiana.
"Let me be perfectly clear, I am a republican senator that absolutely believes in the wearing of masks and also social distancing," said state Senator Ron Alting who represents the 22nd district of Indiana.
However, many of senator Alting's Republican colleagues do not feel the same. The Republican-dominated joint House-Senate committee voted Thursday against a proposal from a Democratic lawmaker for rules enforcing a facemask policy.
"I did suspect that there would be some push back. I've seen a lot of legislators that have been very combative when it comes to the mandates that the governor has put forth," said State Representative Chris Campbell who represents district 26.
While masks will not be required, lawmakers say there will be other COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
"The gallery which is up above the chambers is usually where citizens sit in, we will be moving senators up in the gallery to make sure that we have social distancing on the floor,” added Senator Alting. “There will be nobody sitting next to each other."
"When the session starts we do plan to meet in the government center next door which has a larger room area we will all have our own individual 5-foot tables," said Representative Campbell.
Even with those safety protocols in place both these local lawmakers agree, they would feel more comfortable if masks were required.
"It's really irresponsible of for them to put forth this kind of recommendation especially since we should be better role models for the state, said Representative Campbell.
"It certainly would not have been my vote for a choice,” said Senator Alting. “Obviously a lot of Americans and a lot of Hoosiers still believe that they should have a choice in doing so."
Both the House and Senate plan to meet Tuesday inside the Statehouse chambers. Many members will sit in the public balconies to provide greater distancing. Legislators will be sworn into office and they will formally elect leaders.