INDIANAPOLIS– Lawmakers are back in Indianapolis for the start of the 2021 legislative session. However, for the first time, they are not all gathering at the Indiana Statehouse.
Due to COVID-19, the Indiana House of Representatives is moving next door to the Government Center South.
Once you’re inside that public entrance, you’ll find Wabash Hall. That’s where the House will meet until further notice. You can participate in person or online but both will have limitations because of the pandemic.
“This is imperfect,” said Republican House Speaker Todd Huston. “But we want to make it as easy for people to interact.”
You can watch the House chamber, Senate chamber and all committee meetings live by clicking here. Once you are on that website, click on the video camera icon to join live streams. But you can’t interact with lawmakers through the live stream. If you want to testify on a bill, you have to show up in person.
“There is a requirement that they are going to have to come in to the designated room to testify in person, if you want to call it in person, the committee will be in a separate room so we can keep that distance like we are trying to do,” explained Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray.
That separate room testimony requirement for Senate committee meetings only.
In the House, they’ll give you an option to testify in the committee room or in a separate room virtually. The House will be hosting committee meetings in the government center’s new House chamber and the original House chamber in the Statehouse. So, you can testify in the same room as lawmakers if you wish since there is more space in those rooms.
“We are going to ask that they don’t sit in the room, that they testify, and then leave the room,” said Speaker Huston. “Again, just trying to prevent crowds from gathering.”
Leadership considered allowing people to testify online from home but ended up deciding against it, blaming potential technology issues.
“If you have people who can do it from all areas, including outside of the state of Indiana, maybe you have 1,000 people who have come to testify and maybe that completely overwhelms our system and kind of shuts it down,” explained Bray.
Lawmakers are offering other ways to speak your mind about legislation.
“You can do a video and have it sent to the committee, you can write a letter, write an email, those types of things will be presented to the committee as well,” said Bray.
“Whether it’s through written testimony, virtual testimony, in person testimony, I believe the people will have the opportunity to have their voices heard,” said Huston.
In the lobby of the Government South Center there are monitors so you can watch the House in action and there are also information centers in that building in case you get lost.
You can also watch monitors, as usual, outside of the Senate Chambers in the Statehouse.
To view all of the bills filed so far this 2021 session, click here.
To view all of the current legislators, click here.
If you are interested in following a bill or testifying on it, click here for the committee schedules in the Senate.
Click here for the committee schedules in the House.
To find your legislator, click here.