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Indiana Democrats Say Legislature Unprepared For Session Amid COVID-19

(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

Democrats say the General Assembly is not prepared to safely conduct its legislative session in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican legislative leaders say they haven’t decided on any COVID-19 testing or screening procedures for lawmakers during session. They also haven’t determined a threshold for when the session might need to shut down temporarily because of positive cases.

Leaders said Tuesday members won’t be allowed to participate in committee hearings virtually. And Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said lawmakers must be in-person to vote on legislation.

“We think that it could be a bit of a slippery slope to go down that path," Huston said. "Obviously, our interest is allowing members to do as much as possible.”

READ MORE: Republicans Reject Indiana House Mask Mandate

Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) says lawmakers aren’t prepared for the realities of a session amid COVID-19.

“I think the leadership just wants to do the bare minimum and still go ahead and proceed with session,” Shackleford said.

Shackleford also told reporters she had just found out she was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. However, she hadn’t yet left the Statehouse to quarantine.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.