SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature has announced plans to take public comment in a virtual fashion because of COVID-19.
Lawmakers have been meeting remotely ever since the pandemic began, conducting special sessions over a video conferencing system. The House and Senate chambers are so compacted, social distancing is not possible. The Utah State Capitol has also been closed to the public since mid-March.
But public comment on specific bills and initiatives hasn't really been possible. With committee hearings scheduled next to address budget cuts brought on by the economic crisis, the legislature announced new ways to take public comment.
According to a statement by House and Senate leaders, here's how it will work:
- At least 12 hours before the committee meeting is scheduled to begin, submit a request form on the committee’s webpage and identify one or more agenda items to address.
- After a request is accepted, participating individuals will receive an email 30 minutes prior to the committee meeting with a link to enter a virtual waiting room.
- Those in the virtual waiting room will not be able to hear the meeting and are advised to open the committee meeting’s live stream in a separate browser tab.
- Individuals will, in turn, be admitted to the live virtual committee meeting to provide public comment.
- Those who are registered to speak to multiple agenda items will be transferred back to the virtual waiting room between comments. Those registered to speak about one agenda item will be transferred out of the committee meeting after presenting comments.
To sign up to speak, visit le.utah.gov.