PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Legislature released its Capitol Operations Safety Plan for the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session Wednesday.
Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney held a press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. to discuss the release of the plan.
The plan provides a framework for convening safely for the upcoming session while ensuring transparency and public participation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 1,500 Oregonians, a statement from the Oregon Legislature said.
The plans goals include balancing the following priorities:
- Safety – for the public, building employees, legislators and their staff
- Transparency – to ensure that the process is clear and encourages public input
- Strong public participation – to make sure proposed legislation receives public review
- The completion of the Legislature’s business – to meet the needs of the state
“As we continue to address the hardship brought on by the pandemic, this plan will ensure safety, transparency, and strong public participation in the 2021 legislative session,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said.
Part of the plan involves essential safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allow remote public hearing testimonies for Oregonians from across the state.
“As we work toward a more equitable recovery from the pandemic and other crises, it will be critical to hear as much as possible from Oregonians in every community,” Kotek said.
“We have never seen a session like this before. We need to keep members and staff safe,” added Senate President Peter Courtney. “Legislative staff worked hard to come up with a plan that is safe and transparent. Every session, Oregonians make their voices heard on issues they care about. We need these voices. This plan will make the legislative process more accessible to Oregonians across the state.”
The plan is a product of a three-month, thorough review of all building operations done by nonpartisan staff and included members of the Oregon Capitol Club and the Capitol Press Association, as well as a bipartisan group of legislators and staff members.
The plan was reviewed and approved by Oregon Health Authority health officials.
Committees will meet remotely at the beginning of the session, with physical entry to the Capitol permitted for authorized personnel. Floor sessions will be limited to necessary business only, with daily floor sessions beginning in April. Should public health conditions improve, the Capitol will be expanded in accordance with public health protocols .
The legislature will convene Monday, January 11 for the swearing in of new members and the start of Organizational Days. The official legislative session will begin Tuesday, January 19.
Read the entire plan here: