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New safety measures implemented for Idaho Legislature

When state lawmakers return to the Idaho Capitol in 2021 there will some changes to keep people safe while in the building.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Legislature plans to begin the upcoming session on January 11, as scheduled, but the Statehouse will have some new safety measures in light of COVID-19. Closing it to the public, House Speaker Scott Bedke says, is not an option.

Among the changes coming up, seating for legislative committee rooms has been reconfigured for physical distancing, and that will affect capacity.

Overflow rooms may be set up for committee hearings when the hearing room is full.

The public may also testify remotely, but use of that testimony is up to both chambers of the Legislature.

"We are making sure that our elected leaders, staff, and public can not only take part in the legislative process as outlined in the Idaho Constitution, but that they are safe while doing it," said Bedke. "We are in the middle of incredibly trying times, but we all need to do the work of the people and rise to these challenges, we all need to step up rather than step back."

Also, desk-mounted plexiglass shields are available for lawmakers at their request.

Hand sanitizer and masks will be available at several locations around the Statehouse, and legislative services staff will be required to wear masks when they're not inside their individual offices.

The Statehouse's H-VAC system is now set to run 24 hours a day, and pull in as much fresh air as possible.

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