|(Richmond) – Today, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn announced plans for the Virginia House of Delegates to conduct their upcoming 45-day session remotely as they did during the recent Special Session. The decision comes after substantive conversations and deliberations with many, including the Clerk of the House and experts at the Virginia Department of Health. This decision prioritizes the health and safety of members, staff and their communities.
As evidenced during the recent special session, public participation and transparency will remain a top priority. This year, the House of Delegates has increased public access by adding easy ways to view both committees and subcommittees online and has expanded the ability of the public to provide comment on legislation throughout the process. For the first time ever, the House has begun providing the public an option to submit written comments on legislation. In addition to committee meetings, subcommittee meetings will be live streamed as well during this session. This is an effort the Democratic caucus has been working toward for several years.
The decision also comes at a time of some of the largest numbers of daily infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the country since the start of the pandemic. Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, numbers have risen as well, leading the Governor to announce new statewide measures to contain COVID-19, including limiting public and private gatherings to 25 individuals. Additionally, recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health played a significant role in the decision of the Speaker. She will continue to work with health experts throughout the winter months to make any changes as warranted during this pandemic.
“As legislators, we must set an example on how to conduct our business and adapt during this pandemic. While I look forward to the time we can return to conducting business in person and go back to the way we operated prior to the global pandemic, at this time we must continue to listen to the experts and make informed, responsible decisions based on their recommendations and science,” said Speaker Filler-Corn.
“Our announcement today is about maintaining the health and safety of all 100 members of the House of Delegates, the staff that would be required to conduct an in-person session, as well as the health and safety of the communities to which each member and their staff would return. Additionally, this session will prove to be transparent, with committee and subcommittee meetings live-streamed, while also including testimony from members of the public who need not travel to Richmond in order to have their voices heard.”
Last week the House of Delegates adjourned a successful special session, meeting remotely and completing their work while protecting the health and safety of members and staff.