Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek announced Monday that all committee meetings during the upcoming 2022 legislative session, set to begin Feb. 1, will be conducted virtually.
The decision was made based on input from infectious disease doctors from Oregon Health & Science University and public health experts amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Plans had been to open the Capitol for in-person committee hearings this year.
"We are committed to ensuring the legislative process is accessible and safe during the upcoming session," Courtney and Kotek wrote in a joint statement. "After conversations with OHSU infectious disease doctors, we decided to move our committees to a virtual format."
The public will be able to enter the Capitol building during regular business hours, despite committee meetings going to the video conference format. Courtney and Kotek have directed all employees who can work remotely to do so during the session to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the building.
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Committee meetings will be livestreamed on the Oregon Legislative Information Site during the upcoming session. Oregonians are encouraged to submit written testimony or to sign up for video or phone testimony.
All individuals within the building must comply with public health guidance, including wearing a face mask, and are encouraged to follow best practices such as staying home when sick, maintaining 6 feet of physical distance, and avoiding large gatherings.
Due to an ongoing seismic retrofit of the Capitol, certain areas are under construction, including the front steps and State Street entrances.