When state legislators convene a special session next week to consider allowing municipal mask mandates, it will be the first time some representatives meet in person.
The House expects to meet in the Statehouse on Monday, while the Senate plans to continue working remotely, said House Speaker Jill Krowinski, D-Burlington, and a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, D-Windham.
Legislators are expected to consider a policy that would allow municipalities to create their own mask mandates — a compromise Gov. Phil Scott offered Democratic leaders after they repeatedly urged him to bring back an indoor mask requirement statewide.
Scott has argued that while masking reduces the spread of the virus, a mask mandate would have little effect on Vermonters’ compliance.
Scott has said that for local mandates to have his approval, they must sunset by April 30, 2022, and must also require a local governing body to vote to extend any mask policy every 30 days.
If the Legislature attempts to take up any other measures during the special session, the governor intends to veto them, according to a Thursday press release.
The House’s adjournment resolution from May requires them to meet in person for next week’s session, Krowinski wrote in an email to VTDigger.
Everyone entering the Statehouse will be required to wear a mask. Krowinski is also working with the Sergeant-at-Arms to offer rapid Covid-19 testing at the Statehouse on Monday, she said at a House Rules Committee meeting Thursday..
If a legislator tests positive, “we would ask them to not come into the building,” Krowinski said in the committee meeting.
Representatives will be encouraged to spread out on the first floor of the building, BetsyAnn Wrask, clerk of the House, said in the Thursday meeting. They plan to seat members of the public and the press in the upper gallery.
Senate rules still allow the upper chamber to meet online, “and we expect that most Senators will participate remotely,” Carolyn Wesley, Balint’s chief of staff, wrote in an email to VTDigger on Wednesday afternoon.
The Senate Committee on Government Operations is scheduled to meet Friday morning to discuss plans for Monday’s special session.
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