State House to convene for just one day in hopes of figuring out ways to meet with ‘as much normalcy as possible’
A spokesman for House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch said cancelling the other scheduled days gives members time to figure out how to conduct the session with a combination of remote work and socially distanced meetings.
Illinois House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch plans to cancel all but one day of the Illinois House’s session next month.
That decision, which was laid out in an email from Welch’s chief of staff Jessica Basham, points to public health recommendations on quarantining before and after large gatherings — such as legislative sessions — as well as weekly trips to Springfield being “impractical” for those with small children or older family members as reasons for nixing the upcoming days.
“Therefore, with the health and safety of members, staff, and the public being the priority, the Speaker plans to cancel the session dates set for February 2-4, 9, 11, and 16-18,” Basham’s email reads. The Center Square first reported the email.
Members should still expect to return to Springfield Feb. 10 to adopt the rules for the General Assembly’s procedures. Between now and then, Majority Leader Rep. Greg Harris will “be working with members on both sides of the aisle to gather and consider potential changes to the Rules, including the authorization of remote committees,” according to the email.
Unlike the lame-duck session earlier this month, the one-day session will be held in the House chambers in the Illinois State Capitol, not the Bank of Springfield Center.
Welch spokesman Sean Anderson said cancelling the other scheduled days gives members time to figure out how to conduct the session with a combination of remote work and socially distanced meetings.
“The goal is to find a way to do committee work remotely and then floor action being done in a way where members can be socially distanced,” by either working in the House’s chambers or their offices.
Allowing the House’s committees to meet remotely is part of the rules package members will decide on Feb. 10, Anderson said.
The decision to meet at the Capitol, and not the Bank of Springfield Center, where the House met in early January and last May to allow for social distancing, largely comes down to trying to preserve a sense of normalcy.
“They’re trying to preserve as much normalcy as possible in a way that is still responsible and safe,” Anderson said. “If we can find a way to do that in the chambers, where members are socially distanced, and there’s a rotation, that’s the members’ preference.”
The state Senate — which has held its limited session days at the Capitol during the pandemic — also cancelled days scheduled for this week, but plans to meet in Springfield on Feb. 9.