State lawmakers are returning to in-person sessions
Lawmakers will return to Dover after over a year of virtual meetings.
But Leg Hall will still be closed to the public.
Lawmakers have taken a very cautious approach to resuming in person sessions, wary of the dangers of spreading the Coronavirus.
But House and Senate leadership have announced plans to bring lawmakers back to Dover in a hybrid fashion.
The House of Representatives will hold its first session in person on April 29th. Lawmakers will still convene virtually, but from their respective offices in Leg Hall.
In a statement, House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf (D-Rehoboth Beach) says “Returning to session in person will give us the opportunity to discuss issues and interact with each other in a way that is both familiar and more productive for many members."
Schwarzkopf is quick to note these plans have been in the works for months, involving leadership from both parties. He says this decision to return back to Legislative Hall was not influenced by pressure from Republican leadership nor the lawsuit filed by former gubernatorial candidate Julianne Murray.
Schwarzkopf adds Republican leadership was notified of these plans in late March, before they called for a return to in-person meetings themselves.
“In fact, this plan was vetted by the leaders of both caucuses last month, as will our ongoing efforts to conduct legislative business on the House floor," he says.
Legislative leaders says they chose now to return in person because of increased access to vaccinations for legislators and their families.
But lawmakers won't be required to get the covid-19 vaccine before returning. One notable abstainer is State Sen. Dave Lawson (R-Cheswold) who says he will not be getting the vaccine.
Leg Hall will also still remian closed to the public, only lawmakers and staf will be allowed inside. The public will still be able to watch and participate in meetings via teleconfrencing.
State Senators plan to come back to Dover on May 11th, after the Bond Committee hearings.
Roman Battaglia is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.