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Changes at Maryland's State House as they prepare for the 2021 legislative session

Posted at 6:27 PM, Nov 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-09 18:27:31-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland's state house is the oldest state house still in use in America. It's been through many changes and it's about to go through some more.

We've all had to adjust to changes during the pandemic and now its time for legislator's to join in.

New protocols will be in line for the 2021 legislative session.

Senate President, Bill Ferguson, says the state house will not be a "bubble", but they will do what they can to make it safe.

"We are trying to mitigate risk for the members and staff and the public that does join us at any point in Annapolis," Ferguson said.

The senate and house have similar safety procedures. In the senate, floor session will be limited to two hours. The public will not be allowed to attend, access by staff members will vary according to levels of the virus. The senate floor will look very different than in years past.

"We've also constructed around each of the desk, that's on committee rooms and on the senate floor," he said.

Because the House has much more members than the Senate, two overflow rooms will be in room 170 and 180 in the house office building. A lottery will determine who will be in the Chamber Auxiliary. The Senate is smaller and will have air purifiers in the chambers.

In the first month of the session, the house and senate will not meet every day of the week to limit exposure. Senate President Ferguson said they are ready for the possibility the legislature may have to take a break in the middle of the session if the virus numbers climb too high.

"Health and safety will be our number one priority and we will make sure the work we do respects the trust that Marylander's have in Maryland's State legislature," he said.