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Wyoming Legislature granting limited media access to Capitol during COVID-19 special session

Wyoming State Capitol (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature will be holding a special session May 15-16 in response to COVID-19 impacts on the state. The legislaute will discuss the emergency appropriation of $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding which has been received by Wyoming.

It will be the first time the legislature has held a special session since 2004.

WyoFile had reported on May 8 that no public or media access to the Wyoming Capitol would be allowed during the session, but the Legislative Service Office said on Monday, May 11 that members of the media may be granted limited access.

“Due to social distancing guidelines, media members granted access to the Capitol Complex will be required to observe proceedings from the third-floor galleries and sit in designated seat locations,” the LSO said. “Media will be able to take photographs from their designated seats. Media members will not have the ability to send lobby notes to legislators that may be seated on the floor or take photographs from the second floor side hallways.”

“There will be a designated interview area in the Capitol Complex where legislators who wish to speak to media members can be interviewed while maintaining appropriate social distancing.  If more applications are received than can be safely accommodated, a lottery will be held.”

The LSO says that they expect only a small number of legislators to participate from the Capitol as they have been encouraged to participate virtually using the Zoom platform. While the Capitol building will be closed to the public, the meetings will be streamed on Youtube.

The special session will be held after Governor Mark Gordon issued a proclamation on May 7.

“The special session will start on Friday, May 15 at 8:00 a.m. and resume the following day, Saturday, May 16 at 8:00 a.m., if the business of the Legislature has not concluded,” the LSO says. “The purpose of the special session is to address immediate needs of the state due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Legislature will also direct funds appropriated in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.”

Proposed legislation for the session can be found on the LSO website here. Proposed rules for the House of Representatives and Senate can be found here.

The public can provide comment on the proposed legislation before and during the special session at this online hotline.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.