Lawmakers Are Divided Over Reopening State Capitol

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Most of the state is expected to reopen next week, but the state Capitol and Legislative Office Building remain closed to the public. 

“We could probably let some people into the building but how would you choose. Would it be a lottery?” House Speaker Matt Ritter said.

Ritter said he doesn’t anticipate that the building will reopen. 

“My hunch tells me that people will probably not be back in the building until session adjourns."

The session adjourns on June 9. 

It’s been a year and one day since the state Capitol and Legislative Office Building closed to the public. Unmasked and not socially distanced lawmakers met on March 11, 2020, to change the rules to allow for remote voting in committee. They never returned before the 2020 session adjourned. 

“I would think that the legislative process and democracy is something that we need to strive to get back to normal,” House Republican Leader Vincent Candelora said.

Candelora said they should be able to begin to reopen the building for committee meetings and meetings with constituents. 

“Most of the committees will have finished most of their work within the next five weeks or so,” Looney said.

Senate President Martin Looney said he doesn’t anticipate reopening the building before the end of the 2021 legislative session. 

“I don’t see any changes coming anytime soon. I think we’ve adopted a plan for the session,” Looney said. 

Republicans want to see that changed. 

“Putting a marker down and saying we are not going to reopen for the rest of the year is really disconcerting to me,” Candelora said.

Candelora said Democrats often accuse Republicans of being science deniers but that’s what they’re doing by not reopening. 

“It’s the height of arrogance that we are going to allow businesses to continue to operate, children going to school, nursing homes are open, all of our workforce is going back to work and yet the legislature is going to continue to sit on their couches and operate remotely,” Candelora said. 

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