INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are starting their 2021 legislative session on Monday, although much of the activity is being moved from the Statehouse over coronavirus concerns.
The House of Representatives is moving its meetings from its wood-paneled Statehouse chamber that’s adorned with a 100-light brass chandelier and a marble counter-topped speaker’s dais.
That chamber has been deemed too crowded for the 100 House members and necessary staffers, so the House will meet in a large conference room in a state office building that is now filled with folding tables and standard office chairs.
The Senate will continue meeting in its Statehouse chamber, but the balcony is now closed to the public as some senators will be sitting there to allow greater distancing and plexiglass surrounds the lecterns from which senators speak.
The Republican-dominated Legislature will face debates over whether to roll back GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb’s authority to issue public health orders and must figure out a new state budget with plenty of questions about how the coronavirus-sparked recession will impact state tax collections.
Legislative leaders are also bracing for possible disruptions if COVID-19 infections spread among lawmakers or staffers during the session that is scheduled to last until late April.