No vaccination requirement
by Guy Page
A straw poll taken by a legislative committee today favors continued live-streaming committee meetings and restricting the number of people in committee rooms.
The Legislative Advisory Committee on the State House is charged with studying alternatives and making recommendations for State House operation in the post-pandemic era. The committee has been meeting regularly, trying to address sometimes competing needs of health, safety, and public access. Its recommendations will be forwarded to a decision-making committee later this year.
In particular, the committee is concerned about the health impact of big crowds in small committee rooms. Some rooms already had serious ventilation and air quality problems before the pandemic heightened concern about airborne transmission of disease.
After considerable in-person discussion in Room 11 of the State House, the committee today agreed informally to continue livestreaming committee meetings. There was consensus that many reporters and other members of the public would choose to watch on-line.
There was also general agreement to limit the number of people in committee rooms to the room’s official physical capacity. The only dissenter was Hartland House member John Bartholomew.
“There is no way to be safe from the spread of infectious disease,” the retired veterinarian and public health expert said. “It’s a false sense of security.”
He also raised a question voiced by others: who decides who stays and who goes? “Who’s gonna be in there? It sounds like a mess,” Bartholomew said.
Capacity limits could cause tension, one senator speculated.
“Anne Galloway and [another reporter] walk into the room at the same time. What do you do?,” Sen. Joe Benning R-Caledonia) asked.
“Duck,” Chair Alice Emmons (D-Springfield) quipped. The committee laughed but the point was made: forcing anyone to leave would be awkward.
Emmons said the straw poll was only an expression of direction, and that details and questions remain unaddressed.
The committee decided at a previous meeting to not require vaccination for entry into the State House. No decision on requiring masks has been made.
Categories: State Government