Legislation: Lawmakers need safety plan to perform duties

West Virginia legislators should not allow the coronavirus to keep them from getting the public’s business done. Surely there is a way lawmakers and their staffs can stay safe while holding their regular 60-day session next year.

Because this is a gubernatorial election year, members of the state Senate and House of Delegates are not scheduled to begin most of their work until February.

Exactly what will be on their plates? House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, has noted lawmakers must approve a state budget. COVID-19 leaves other legislation up in the air because of the risk of an outbreak in the crowded Capitol.

Precisely because of the epidemic, legislators should find a way to hold a meaningful session, however. They may be able to put off some activity until a special session later in the year, but some issues — such as helping schools with remote learning and other challenges — are pressing.

A vaccine against the virus would solve the problem, of course. If one is available early in 2021, state government officials should be on the priority list to receive it.

That failing, some means of legislators meeting in person, with at least some staff members, should be devised. It happens in Congress, after all, so why not Charleston — with the hope, of course, that state lawmakers can be more productive than their federal counterparts.


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