COVID-19 spurs Kansas Legislature to plan $3M tech upgrade

photo by: Associated Press

The Kansas Statehouse stands against the sky as the sun sets in the distance Monday, April 27, 2020, in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

TOPEKA (AP) — The Kansas Legislature plans to spend about $3 million on technology upgrades in hopes that people will be able to watch committee hearings and other functions even if they can’t leave their homes because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The upgrades are designed to ensure that legislative committee rooms and even conference spaces are outfitted with audiovisual equipment to broadcast events to the public, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. The Legislature’s top seven leaders approved the upgrades Thursday.

The upgrades will include better support for meetings conducted with video conferencing, which sometimes comes with technology issues and can be difficult for listeners to hear. One legislative study committee hearing halted temporarily earlier this week because the audio stopped working for a witness testifying remotely.

The upgrades are planned as top lawmakers are starting to consider exactly how the Legislature will conduct business after it convenes its next annual session in January. Most decisions are pending.

Legislative leaders also could consider could require plexiglass partitions in committee rooms, close the House and Senate galleries and limit on who can enter the building. They also could require lawmakers to wear masks.


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