Legislative leaders in Wyoming voted Tuesday to hold two swearing-in ceremonies for new lawmakers, one that will follow public health orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and one that won’t.
The 10-3 vote to hold separate ceremonies came as the Legislature’s Management Council met to set a timeline for the 2021 legislative session, which will be delayed until the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Casper Star-Tribune reports.
However, lawmakers are constitutionally required to meet at the Wyoming Capitol on Jan. 12 to swear in new members, ratify leadership and hear a State of the State address by the governor.
An initial plan for the Jan. 12 events strongly recommended lawmakers and their families comply with active public health orders. House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, suggested Tuesday that lawmakers set an example and that those attending be required to comply with public health orders.
“Let’s not dictate to them how they should be there,” said incoming Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton. “This is a prime example for us to reach out and welcome them to the Legislature and not dictate them on how they’re sworn in,”
Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said someone’s decision not to wear a mask could dissuade others from attending ceremonies that mark a milestone in their political careers.
Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, made a motion to hold two ceremonies and allow lawmakers to choose which one to attend.
More than half of Wyoming’s lawmakers are considered to be in an “at-risk” category for more serious impacts from the coronavirus because of their age, the Legislative Service Office said. Several lawmakers have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. Rep. Roy Edwards, R-Gillette, died on Nov. 2 after contracting the virus.