(INDIANAPOLIS) — Legislators may tighten enforcement of mask requirements at the statehouse.
Legislators aren’t required to wear masks, though nearly all of them do. But masks are required for
anyone else at the statehouse. Several people planning to testify at a Wednesday committee
hearing ignored that order. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says legislators are
talking to Capitol police about enforcing the requirement.
As a coronavirus precaution, most committee hearings this year have legislators gathered in one
room while witnesses and spectators are in another. Some people who had planned to testify at
Wednesday’s hearing left rather than share the room with those defying the mask mandate. Bray
and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) says people who come to the statehouse need to feel
safe there. Bray says the legislative staffers or interns who have been assigned to the witness rooms
aren’t in a position to tell people to mask up.
It’s not clear what Capitol police would do to enforce the order. Bray says he’d rather avoid kicking
people out of the building. He says he hopes a firm reminder from a uniformed officer will get people
to follow the mandate. And Bray says officers can also restore proper decorum at hearings. He says
with the meeting split between two rooms, many of the unmasked activists who disagreed with
someone’s testimony were talking back to the video feed and creating an unruly atmosphere.
Legislators were debating a bill barring employers from requiring workers to get the coronavirus
vaccine. Bray says the bill’s opponents may have undermined their cause — he says a vote on the
bill was delayed because of the number of people who left without testifying.