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As Missouri lawmakers reconvened at the Capitol to handle pressing budget business of the state, the public continued to be allowed to watch the legislative proceedings in person.
That said, lawmakers are urging the public to monitor their work remotely, via audio/video streaming.
Normally, urging the public to stay out of "the people's building" would be unacceptable. In the age of COVID-19, we believe it's a fair compromise that balances safety with accessibility.
The Capitol and state office buildings currently are closed to the public, but the Missouri Constitution requires legislative proceedings be public meetings. Work of the Missouri Legislature is not part of the statewide stay-at-home order.
State officials have urged the public to consider remote-viewing options. "The goal is to protect the public, staff and members of the General Assembly present in the Capitol building," Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said in a statement.
Audio streaming of Senate floor action is available on the Senate's website, senate.mo.gov. Details on other Senate activity, and how to watch, is available at senate.mo.gov/hearingsschedule/hrings.htm.
House floor activity is live-streamed, and that can be found at house.mo.gov/MediaCenter.aspx?selected=VideoFeedsLive.
If you choose to enter the Capitol, you'll be subject to a temperature check and required to answer several health questions.
The public will only have access to the room where a hearing is being conducted and visitor galleries for legislative floor action. Limited seating is available because social distancing requirements are in effect.
In the House, only the rear (east) visitor gallery will be open. It's the Senate, the upper galleries will be open.
The Legislature will have finished budget work by the time you read this. In the near future, we urge you to continue following the Missouri Legislature when they are in session. We also second state officials' requests for the public to stay away from the Capitol during the pandemic, and consider watching or listening to proceedings remotely.
It's a reasonable request as we collectively work to battle COVID-19. You still can email, phone or write to your elected officials.