Wisconsin Senate gives virtual meeting a test run amid coronavirus outbreak
MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate is preparing to meet over the internet for the first time in state history if it needs to convene to take action on proposals reacting to the coronavirus outbreak.
Two state senators and 11 stand-ins met in person and remotely on Tuesday for a dry run in case the Senate has to meet virtually, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on Wednesday.
The group included Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senate President Roger Roth in the Capitol and several state IT employees mostly tuning in over Skype, and they rehearsed a scripted session, the newspaper reported. They proposed amendments, passed mock bills and even adjourned in honor of National Waffle Day.
Lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers have been discussing taking emergency action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but no proposals have been introduced and no meeting date is set.
Wisconsin lawmakers are able to connect remotely during a disaster under a law passed in 2009.
Wisconsin law governing virtual meetings requires that each senator be identified, receive documentation and summaries for legislation and amendments under consideration, and is able to read or listen along. Roth said the public would be able to follow the meeting on the WisconsinEye public affairs cable network.