Indiana lawmakers plan session shifts amid virus worries

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are preparing to move much of their 2021 legislative session activity out of the Statehouse over coronavirus concerns.

A joint House-Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed a plan aimed at allowing the 100-member House hold its floor sessions and committee meetings in the auditorium and conference rooms in a state office building next to the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

The 50-member state Senate is planning to keep meeting in its Statehouse chamber but will convert its public gallery into seating for senators in order to allow sufficient distancing when the legislative session starts in January.

Plans presented Wednesday would have House committees meet in government center conference rooms that are larger than those available in the Statehouse, which first opened in 1888. Those testifying about bills being considered, however, would have to speak by video from other rooms.

Committee members decided against using the nearby Indiana Convention Center for the legislative session, citing concerns about cost and the further distance from the Statehouse. But the convention center could be used as a location for the governor’s annual State of the State speech to all 150 lawmakers.

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