CORONAVIRUS

Iowa Legislature set to resume session June 3

The Senate chambers are seen from the galley area at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Andy Ab
The Senate chambers are seen from the galley area at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

The Iowa Legislature has again pushed back plans for reconvening its 2020 session, which has been interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lawmakers suspended their session March 16 for 30 days as part of the effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of legislators, staff and the public.

After pushing that back until this Friday, the Legislative Council now plans to vote to wait until June 3 to resume its in-person work at the Statehouse in Des Moines.

Suspending the session was necessary to ensure the state’s health care infrastructure was not overwhelmed, said Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny.

“It is now time for the Senate to resume its constitutional duty,” he said.

“Iowans have stepped up and done their part to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford. “It is also time for the Legislature to return to Des Moines so we can complete our work.”

Legislators have yet to agree on a state budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. But the resumed session may go beyond that.

In his statement, Whitver said lawmakers also needed to “implement policy priorities.”

A council meeting is planned for Thursday afternoon to approve resuming the session at 9 a.m. June 3.

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Several precautions will be taken, including requiring staff members and the public to undergo a health screening before entering the Capitol and recommending that social distancing guidelines be followed as well as the use of face masks, which will be provided to those who want one. Hand sanitizer stations will be positioned throughout the Capitol.

The Senate will limit the number of individuals on the floor to only senators and necessary staff. All Senate and House committee meetings will be livestreamed from the House and Senate chambers.

For subcommittee meetings, members of the public will be encouraged to submit written comments on legislation via the Legislature website, legis.iowa.gov.

The Capitol will reopen to the public starting May 18, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Capitol is closed to tour groups. Individuals will be encouraged to maintain social distancing and not gather in groups larger than 10.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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