Public participation in legislative proceedings in Utah has temporarily been moved online "out of an abundance of caution," a news release stated Wednesday.
The decision came after the Utah Highway Patrol expressed concerns with legislative leadership about protests at the Utah State Capitol Building, coinciding with the opening of the 45-day annual general session on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
“As lawmakers, we take our responsibility to govern seriously,” Senate President J. Stuart Adams stated in a news release. “We will convene as scheduled in a manner that is safe for everyone as we work on behalf of Utahns. Though this session will be unconventional, we recognize the value of public input and have worked to fine-tune a process that enables remote public comment. We encourage all Utahns to utilize this new process throughout the session.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, legislative staff has worked to initiate remote public participation, providing Utahns the opportunity to participate in the legislative process from their homes.
Audio and video improvements permit virtual access to all legislative proceedings. Utahns can now watch presentations and spontaneously request to provide input during a live committee meeting as if they were in a committee room.
“Our primary concerns are for the safety of those who would be in the Capitol under ordinary circumstances and for the Legislature to be able to conduct the business of the people without interruption,” Speaker of the House Brad Wilson is quoted in a news release.
It is unfortunate we have to take this step but we have the procedures and technologies in place to allow us to adjust and move forward. We will work closely with the Utah Highway Patrol as we evaluate conditions and determine when in-person options can resume.
He will be sworn into office two weeks after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington D.C. as Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes.