The Wyoming State Capitol building in Cheyenne. Photo: David Jones

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Beginning March 1, state lawmakers will convene under a new joint plan developed by Governor Mark Gordon, President of the Senate Dan Dockstader, and Speaker of the House Eric Barlow.

The Wyoming Legislature will convene in a hybrid in-person and remote. Lawmakers have been meeting virtually over the last week. “Our priority is keeping people safe and preventing COVID-19 infections while fulfilling the constitutional functions of the Wyoming Legislature,” said the Governor, President, and Speaker.

The approach for the March session will still allow remote participation by lawmakers, the public, and the Executive Branch. However, many people are participating from the Capitol building now for the virtual session and more are expected during the hybrid session in March.

“In order for this session to proceed safely and successfully, it is important that all Wyoming legislators are able to fully and completely attend to their legislative responsibilities. Wyoming citizens expect nothing less,” Governor Gordon said.

“The virtual session format has served us well through the initial work of this Legislature as we completed our constitutional requirements and considered well-vetted interim committee bills,” Senate President Dan Dockstader said. “We are now entering a phase where the general appropriations bill and individually sponsored bills will be considered. Limited in-person interaction between legislators and staff members is critical to working these bills and optimizing the legislative response to the difficult issues facing the State of Wyoming.”

While details could change, the current plan outlines how the hybrid sessions will proceed. The Governor will direct all Executive Branch employees to participate in the legislative process virtually. Both branches agree to continue the preference of virtual meetings between branches. If an in-person meeting must be held, COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed. Legislative bodies will limit the number of non-legislator presentations on the floors of the House and Senate.

When meeting in the physical environment, the legislature has agreed upon COVID-19 precautions that include, required mask usage by all members unless seated at their desk or when social distancing can be maintained, social distancing will be required in all committee rooms, galleries, and hallways, and hand sanitizer, masks, and temperature scanners will be placed throughout the Capitol Complex.

The public will be able to comment during all legislative meetings broadcasted remotely. Members of the public who participate in in-person meetings will be required to comply with public health orders in place at the time of the session. Mask usage is required in legislative spaces.

The strategy is said to require fewer than 100 vaccines. Members of the Wyoming legislature, Legislative staff members, a limited number of journalists, and Capitol building custodians will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine if they cannot perform their duties virtually. No other Executive Branch employee will receive the vaccine through this plan, as their participation will be accommodated through virtual means.

“Vaccination of legislators and legislative staff against the virus which causes COVID-19, in conjunction with other health and safety measures and continued virtual participation, is vital to maintaining a safe session,” said House Speaker Eric Barlow

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.