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Lawmakers Begin Work With Unanswered Questions About Session Amid COVID-19

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), left, and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), right, talk with reporters on the first day of the 2021 legislative session.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), left, and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), right, talk with reporters on the first day of the 2021 legislative session. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

The Indiana House and Senate are making changes to the way they conduct business for the 2021 legislative session – one everyone agrees will be “unique.”

And some questions still lacked specific answers as the session began Monday.

The House normally meets in a floor session three times a week. This year, at least initially, it will only do that once a week, to avoid unnecessarily gathering 100 lawmakers in one room. The Senate is staggering its staff’s work schedules – half will work from home part of the week.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said flexibility will be key.

“Those are all subject to change and we will adjust accordingly based upon monitoring the situation and making the necessary changes,” Huston said.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said there is no specific threshold for temporarily halting session if COVID-19 cases arise in legislators and staff.

“We’re just going to have to try and play that by ear and we’ll continue to move through this session as best we can,” Bray said.

Leaders say the only hard deadline is passing a new state budget by the end of June.

If lawmakers and staff do test positive for COVID-19, the House and Senate will not publicly announce it. Huston and Bray said is someone around the legislative tests positive, legislative leaders will be informed and contact tracing will occur to ensure close contacts are identified and informed.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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