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Lewis & Clark County Recommends Legislature Meet Remotely Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Screen capture of a September 17, 2020 legislative rules committee meeting. Republican lawmakers met to discuss changing the 2021 Legislature’s rules for operating amid the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats boycotted the meeting, saying it was illegitimate,
Screen capture of a September 17, 2020 legislative rules committee meeting. Republican lawmakers met to discuss changing the 2021 Legislature’s rules for operating amid the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats boycotted the meeting, saying it was illegitimate,";

Lewis and Clark County public health officials are recommending the 2021 legislative session be held remotely amid growing concerns of COVID-19 spread this winter. The recommendation comes a day after lawmakers gathered in the statehouse for caucus meetings. 

The Lewis and Clark City-County Board of Health addressed a letter to newly elected party leaders advising them to hold the upcoming legislative session virtually. 

The letter notes sharp increases in daily reported COVID-19 cases, hospitals reaching capacity and people dying from the respiratory virus. The board says that holding the session virtually, rather than in person, would "best protect legislators, staff, and the public from exposure."

During this week’s caucus meetings many Democrats attended via video calls and many Republicans showed up in person, few wearing masks. 

Lawmakers have yet to decide how they’ll hold the session, whether that be in-person, virtually or a hybrid of the two. They’re expected to schedule a meeting to hash it out in the coming weeks. The 2021 session is scheduled to start January 4.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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