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Illinois House Democrats cancel most of February session

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- After canceling the majority of last year's session due to COVID-19, House Democrats decided to delay work for the current session until March.

They announced they will only return to the Capitol for one day of session in February.

Speaker Chris Welch's Chief of Staff, Jessica Basham, described frequent travel to Springfield as impractical with current guidelines.

Basham emphasized the risk of spreading COVID-19 is higher for lawmakers with young children or older family members at home.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said he spoke with Welch and they hope to create a plan allowing virtual session. However, he said if stores and restaurants are re-opening, then lawmakers should be working in-person too.

"The rest of society is figuring out ways to be able to insure that people's safety and health will never be compromised," said Durkin. "We can do the same in the House."

At this time Representatives plan to be back in the Capitol on February 10th to address the new House rules. That means they won't return to the Bank of Springfield Center, saving the state thousands of dollars in rent.

Once they return to Springfield, Basham explained that things will look a little differently to keep lawmakers safe.

"For floor action, a system of rotating members between the chamber and their offices will be implemented to maintain social distancing," said Basham. "Specific details on this process, and other health and safety precautions, will be developed and shared in the coming days."

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Ali Rasper

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