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Illinois lawmakers propose plan to allow virtual meetings

Illinois lawmakers propose plan to allow virtual meetings

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol. (Photo by Jim Bowen via Flickr/Creative Commons

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A new proposal filed earlier this month would allow state lawmakers to meet and vote remotely in emergency situations.

Chicago Democrats Rep. Ann Williams and Sen. Robert Martwick call it a launching point for discussions on how to meet going into 2021 amid the ongoing pandemic, according to a joint statement.

The Legislature last met in person in May to approve a budget, taking social distancing measures. However, Martwick said he has a preexisting condition which put his health at risk.

Under the bill, members of the General Assembly could meet remotely for session and committees if a joint proclamation is made by the House speaker and Senate president. The plan calls for members of the public to be able to watch sessions and committee meetings in real time.

“The intent of the legislation is to provide for the very rare circumstances where it is extremely dangerous or impossible to meet,” Williams said in a statement. “It’s clear that the Legislature operates most effectively in person, when we can all meet and interact with each other more easily.”

Earlier this year, the Senate adopted rules that allowed lawmakers to participate remotely if there's a quorum present. A similar plan failed in the House.

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