EMERGENCY SENATE RULES

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By Bob Katzen

The Senate adopted, on a voice vote without a roll call, a measure establishing temporary emergency Senate rules in light of COVID-19. The rules are similar to the ones approved by the House for its operation. They allow senators to debate and vote remotely fromanywhere outside the chamber in order to limit the number of people in the Senate chamber.

Members will be given access to a telephone line or other electronic means to allow them to speak remotely during the session. A staff person would coordinate participation in debate by any member who would like to speak from outside the chamber. The new rules prohibit anyone from entering the Senate chamber without an appropriate mask or other face covering that covers the person’s nose and mouth.

Supporters said the new rules will cut down on the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“The rules adopted by the full Senate represent a bipartisan effort to ensure the Senate engages in a transparent and participatory process while protecting the health and safety of both members and staff during this public health crisis,” said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D-Newton.)

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