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Read the IDPH session guidelines

Thursday, May 7, 2020

* We’ve talked a bit about the IDPH guidelines for the General Assembly when legislators return to session. But I thought you might want to see the entire document, so here it is

Mission and Purpose:

This document provides guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to the members of the General Assembly and legislative staff in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Illinois. These recommendations will ensure the public health and safety of legislators, legislative staff and other support personnel.

Travel and Stay in Springfield:

    • Members who either share a residence or a hotel room in Springfield, use individual hotel rooms in order to continue the practice of safe social distancing.
    • Public transportation and ridesharing should be used for essential travel only. When possible, drive yourself.

Upon entry to the Illinois State Capitol:

    • IDPH recommends that the Secretary of State (“SOS”) should have the Capitol Police screen all those entering the capitol for a temperature of 100F degrees or greater and/or other symptoms.
    • SOS should have a robust sanitizing practice in the Capitol multiple times a day, with special attention to door handles, elevator buttons, and other frequently touched surfaces.
    • SOS should maintain limiting the number of people into the State Capitol (only state employees directly supporting session, which means excluding lobbyist and the public).
    • If a member is feeling ill, they should NOT travel to Springfield for session. While in Springfield if a legislator becomes ill or symptomatic, they should call their doctor, a nurse hotline, any telehealth hotline set up specifically for COVID-19 or an urgent care center. If they are experiencing symptoms, they should return home and follow the guidelines provided by their physician.
    • If a member has a serious underlying medical condition they should NOT travel to Springfield for session.
    • IDPH advises that members 65 years of age or older should consider NOT traveling to Springfield for session.
    • The common areas that include the Rotunda, and the House and Senate galleries should remain closed to the public.
    • Signs should be displayed around the state capitol reminding staff and legislators to wash their hands and practice social distancing (i.e. coughing or sneezing into elbow, and using hand sanitizer)

In- Person Floor Debates and Voting:

    • IDPH recommends only requiring necessary staff in the chamber. Those would include the following: Chair, parliamentarian, clerk, member presenting the bill and one appointee from each caucus to ask questions, essential doormen and sergeant at arms, and essential staff support for substantive items.
    • Only necessary members should be on the floor and voting, per the leader’s agreement in advance and only enough to meet the minimum quorum requirements. Members should be arranged so they are six feet away from the next member. This may require having members occupy the gallery space.

In- Person Committee Hearings and Voting:

    • IDPH recommends all meetings, such as committee pre-meetings, caucuses, and negotiation sessions for bills, should be conducted via phone or video conferencing system in advance.
    • If committees are held, bills should be agreed upon prior to committee, to avoid unnecessary debate.
    • Only necessary staff should be present.
    • Consider only the minimum number of legislators necessary to establish a quorum (i.e. Chairman, Vice Chairman, Minority Spokesperson and limited designated members).
    • If debate must take place, agree to vote the bill on a partisan roll call so that Chair and Minority Spokesperson of each committee can perform the business of their caucus.
    • Only two larger committee rooms should be used so that members can be arranged six feet away from the next member.
    • Only legislators should be there, witnesses who want to testify must do so by providing written testimony that can be read into the record (rather than in person).
    • Members of the public can still engage with the democratic process by live steaming, engaging with their legislator by means of communication that include emails, telephone, and by filing an electronic witness slip.
    • Capitol staff should stay in their workspaces as much as possible or continue to work remotely if possible. If Capitol staff need to report to work, staff’s workspaces should be six feet away from each other.

Upon adjournment:

    • IDPH recommends social distancing and isolation for at least seven days post legislative session.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - Chambanalyst - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 9:55 am:

    How many members would fall under these two provisions?

    • If a member has a serious underlying medical condition they should NOT travel to Springfield for session.
    • IDPH advises that members 65 years of age or older should consider NOT traveling to Springfield for session.


  2. - Elliott Ness - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    Guess Madigan should not attend then?


  3. - Perrid - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    Hmm. They really want parties to vote unanimously. Some hotheads might not like that.


  4. - Elliott Ness - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 9:59 am:

    Suggesting partisan role deals? C’mon man! No lobbyists or members of the public? They best remote some people in, often the people have the best testimony and lobbyists can add great knowledge to the discussion-


  5. - Nagidam - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:03 am:

    ===How many members would fall under these two provisions?
    • If a member has a serious underlying medical condition they should NOT travel to Springfield for session.
    • IDPH advises that members 65 years of age or older should consider NOT traveling to Springfield for session.===

    You really only have to count the democrats in this. I would expect all republicans will show up. This virus isn’t that serious for them. I say this somewhat tongue in cheek but if one of them doesn’t show up their republican base will have their head. Reap what you sow.


  6. - Bruce (no not him) - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:06 am:

    No lobbyists? How will the legislators know how to vote?


  7. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:10 am:

    On the individual hotel rooms, unless things change in the next few weeks it looks like the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel downtown is still not accepting guests. From their website this morning: “Due to the current travel environment, this hotel is currently not accepting guests for a short period. Reservations are available for future dates.”

    Looks like State House Inn is going to be quite busy later this month. Maybe Mansion View and Homestyle Inn & Suites (near Memorial Medical Center)–although from what I’ve heard and seen both motels aren’t the same like they used to be.


  8. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    Also, since State offices are currently hoping to reopen in June, unless the GA is going to come back before the end of the month (to pass the budget and other essential legislation), could we also be looking at June sessions while State Employees in the complex (of which I am one) are back to work?


  9. - Cornerfield - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:18 am:

    No mention of face coverings


  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:22 am:

    ===How will the legislators know how to vote? ===

    Text messaging.


  11. - Rabid - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:34 am:

    How about 177 motor homes surrounding the Capitol


  12. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:55 am:

    Two problems: I object to saying members older than 65 shouldn’t represent their constituents. That is disenfranchisement of those constituents.

    Also, “If committees are held, bills should be agreed upon prior to committee, to avoid unnecessary debate.” What someone calls unnecessary another calls crucial.


  13. - SAP - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 10:56 am:

    Sounds great in concepts, but greatly misunderestimates the importance of staff and lobbyists.


  14. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    “How about 177 motor homes surrounding the Capitol”

    Anyone know the vehicle capacity of the Secretary of State’s Visitor Center parking lot on College just north of Boone’s? Can that feat be pulled off in that lot? That would be a sight to see.


  15. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    “Two problems: I object to saying members older than 65 shouldn’t represent their constituents. That is disenfranchisement of those constituents.”

    I also wonder about this too. And wonder if this could eventually lead to someone filing a bill in the future calling for Mandatory Retirement at 65 for all State employees and local/state officials. Or make “rule of 85″ mandatory retirement. I’m surprised someone didn’t try to pull that kind of a bill off during all the pension reform debates/debacles of the Quinn years.


  16. - My New Handle - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 11:14 am:

    “…misunderestimates the importance of staff and lobbyists.”
    Is misunderestimates a word? Perhaps the recommendations misoverestimates knowledge, wisdom and critical thinking abilities of the GA members.


  17. - public input - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    == Members of the public can still engage with the democratic process by live steaming, engaging with their legislator by means of communication that include emails, telephone, and by filing an electronic witness slip. ==

    Most members of the public have zero access to members right now. Their district offices aren’t open and member email addresses aren’t made public on the website, except the House listing does give email addresses for member’s offices. They can call and I am sure members are responding to constituents, but to even pretend there’s an opportunity for public input.


  18. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 11:48 am:

    “Sounds great in concepts, but greatly misunderestimates the importance of staff and lobbyists.”

    AND State Employees who work in the complex too (e.g., Stratton, Howlett, Archives, State Museum, etc.), even though most of those employees have been sent home and/or on work-at-home status (occasionally still key staff coming in) since March 17. And could be out until the end of this month. But especially in case state offices reopen June 1 as currently planned.

    Could a case be made that if June sessions are needed, for them to just meet on weekends only when the rest of the State Employees are off?


  19. - JSI - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:00 pm:

    And here’s one of the core issues keeping the GA from meeting: “IDPH advises that members 65 years of age or older should consider NOT traveling to Springfield for session.”


  20. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    “Guess Madigan should not attend then?”

    Could IDPH–inadvertently–do what four years of Rauner failed to accomplish–force Madigan to retire?


  21. - Rabid - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:04 pm:

    Can madigan preside on a big screen, he don’t have to vote


  22. - zatoichi - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:30 pm:

    Maybe it is time for the GA it invest in some serious communication tech. If the US Supreme Court can handle hearings over phone lines and one judge calls in from the hospital, there are other options. My son’s company often has 200+ people on corporate calls that include votes/feedback. On line may not be the best solution, but there are groups making it work.


  23. - Rich Miller - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:37 pm:

    ===If the US Supreme Court can handle hearings over phone lines===

    Nine people and a couple of lawyers. Did you see what a disaster the online Chicago city council meeting was? That’s 50 people. Now, try 118 and 59.


  24. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 12:54 pm:

    This hit me during lunch–here’s an idea for the GA that ties into the State Fair being doubtful (both Springfield and DuQuoin).

    Pass at least a partial budget after Memorial Day (maybe a 3 or 6-month one).

    Then adjourn the rest of the summer until State Fair week. Then meet again daily Aug. 13-23 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and have session there. Lots of room for social distancing there among legislators and staff. During breaks in session have Sam Madonia sing his all-time favorite Vegas show tunes on the loudspeaker.

    Then do the same in DuQuoin Aug. 28-Sept. 6. Let the legislators have Sept. 7 (Labor Day) off there.


  25. - Centennial - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 1:08 pm:

    “• If debate must take place, agree to vote the bill on a partisan roll call so that Chair and Minority Spokesperson of each committee can perform the business of their caucus.”

    IDPH is overstepping here. The Executive Branch should not be telling the legislature how to conduct business. Coequal branches, guys.


  26. - Maybe Not So Much - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    Centennial, these are described at the top of the doc as “recommendations.” There may be other overstepping going on in the world, but I’m not sure this is your prime example.


  27. - Leigh John-Ella - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 1:49 pm:

    – If committees are held, bills should be agreed upon prior to committee, to avoid unnecessary debate. –

    Did IDPH hire Marty Sandoval to come up with these?


  28. - Centennial - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 1:52 pm:

    Directing how debate should be conducted, how roll calls are managed, and the role of the spokesperson are awful specific “recommendations” Those “recommendations” have nothing to do with maintaining public health and everything to do with parliamentarian procedure.


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