Legislators may tighten mask enforcement at Indiana Statehouse

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Legislators may tighten enforcement of mask requirements at the Indiana Statehouse:

Lawmakers aren’t required to wear masks, though nearly all of them do. But masks are required for anyone else at the statehouse. Several people planning to testify at a Wednesday committee hearing ignored that order. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says legislators are talking to Capitol police about enforcing the requirement.

As a coronavirus precaution, most committee hearings this year have legislators gathered in one room while witnesses and spectators are in another. Some people who had planned to testify at Wednesday’s hearing left rather than share the room with those defying the mask mandate. Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) says people who come to the statehouse need to feel safe there. Bray says the legislative staffers or interns who have been assigned to the witness rooms aren’t in a position to tell people to mask up.

It’s not clear what Capitol police would do to enforce the order. Bray says he’d rather avoid kicking people out of the building. He says he hopes a firm reminder from a uniformed officer will get people to follow the mandate. And Bray says officers can also restore proper decorum at hearings. He says with the meeting split between two rooms, many of the unmasked activists who disagreed with someone’s testimony were talking back to the video feed and creating an unruly atmosphere.

Legislators were debating a bill barring employers from requiring workers to get the coronavirus vaccine. Bray says the bill’s opponents may have undermined their cause — he says a vote on the bill was delayed because of the number of people who left without testifying.

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