State House quadruples number of lawmakers allowed on floor

Executive Rules Committee approved the update

OLYMPIA — The state House is increasing the total number of lawmakers allowed on the chamber floor from five to 20, starting today.

Bernard Dean, the chief clerk of the House, said Monday that the Executive Rules Committee approved the update to the chamber’s COVID-19 policy on Friday. Floor action will continue to be mostly conducted in a hybrid format with most of the chamber’s 98 members participating remotely.

The vote was taken the same day the Senate approved doubling the number of its senators in its 49-member chamber from 15 to 30.

Meetings of the House Executive Rules Committee, which officials say are conducted mostly by phone and email, are not advertised in advance and are closed to the press. The Senate equivalent, the Facilities and Operations Committee, sends out alerts about upcoming agenda topics and allows members of the press to call in to meetings, as they did Friday.

All members who plan to be on the House floor must show proof of vaccination, including a booster, and be masked. And all House lawmakers and staff who work onsite are being tested three days a week. In the Senate, all members and staff who plan to be at the Capitol will continue to be required to have a confirmed on-site negative test before entering Senate facilities, regardless of vaccination status, and to be masked.

Visitors and members of the public are not allowed in Senate or House facilities, including in the galleries overlooking the floor. Credentialed members of the media will continue to occupy the galleries, instead of the traditional press table on the chamber floors, and will continue to provide proof of a negative test for access in the Senate, and proof of vaccination for access in the House.

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