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2021 Legislature will start mostly virtually due to COVID-19

Updated January 21, 2021 - 6:15 pm

CARSON CITY — The legislative session set to kick off next month will be closed to the public, with only lawmakers, essential staff and a limited number of media members being allowed in the building due to COVID-19 concerns, according to the head of the agency that serves lawmakers.

Brenda Erdoes, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the usual festivities that accompany the start of the session, which begins on Feb. 1, will not happen this year in order for the building to stay in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 regulations on public gatherings.

Erdoes said that people wishing to participate in the committee hearings virtually will do so via reservation through the Legislature’s website, using Zoom videoconferencing.

For people looking to have their voice heard during public comment, Erdoes said that will happen via telephone or by videoconference at designated sites that are still being developed at locations across the state.

Individual videoconference meetings with lawmakers will also be permitted via Microsoft Teams, Erdoes said.

There will also be a weekly COVID-19 testing protocol for lawmakers, staff and news media for as long as the building is closed to the public.

“After legislators and essential staff have received both COVID-19 vaccinations, the Legislature will initiate a plan to begin opening the Legislative Building to members of the public and registered lobbyists to participate in committee hearings in person, by reservation through the Legislature’s website,” Erdoes said.

Anyone who wants to participate in person at that point will be required to show a completed “COVID-19 vaccination card” or take a nasal swab rapid COVID-19 test, provided at no cost, before entering the building.

Erdoes said they are working to introduce a bill that will require lobbyists to register with the Legislature if they are participating virtually. Current law only requires registration for lobbyists who appear in person.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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