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Lawmakers work in chambers altered by COVID-19 during special session

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 4:56 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -The assembly chambers at the legislative building in Carson City look pretty much the same.

But with COVID-19, a state budget in ruins, and a special session called, changes to this chamber and the senate had to be made.

“Really it was following the CDC guidelines,” says Jon Vietti, Facilities Manager about precautions made. “And looking at the CDC guidelines and trying to figure out what the recommendations are,” says Vietti. Vietti says he carries a measuring tape with him at all times to make sure everything that needs to be six feet apart is.

That has meant in the assembly chambers some member's desks have made the move to the back.

Those members will have a wooden tray and if they need to speak, a microphone is within a few steps.

Lights and message centers are at established desks. If they want to speak from the floor, those members in the back of the room have another way of letting the speaker know they want to make their observations.

For those with established desks, plastic screens have been put in place between assembly members.

The same layout is in the senate.

However, because there are fewer members here, the desks remain in place.

Fewer staff will be up in front where the Lieutenant Governor presides. Many of them will be working from home.

“Having those three months to try and figure it out,” says Brenda Erodes, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director. “In the beginning I think most of us didn’t nearly do what we could at home. But it has really evolved. People are. I’m really pleased with how people have adapted,” she says. The governor has asked lawmakers to wear a mask.

They and their staff will be some of the few allowed in the building during the special session.

No lobbyist will be in the legislative building.

The press will be limited.

While the public will not be allowed inside, they will be able to watch through a website, and even testify if they wish by phone.

Screens normally used to tally a vote and present written text and status of a bill will also be used as screens to present testimony.

Hand sanitizer, push button lavatories, and signs everywhere.

Those signs say to limit your distance, to limit occupancy, even to limit touching your face.

Special session or not, it is all just a sign of the times.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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