New York lawmakers react to new Capitol visitation rules

Regional News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In the first full week of New York’s 2022 legislative session, new rules for visitors at the New York State Capitol were implemented by the Office of General Services.

Visitors will have to enter through the concourse level and provide full proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result that was taken in the past 48 hours. NYSP is staffing the access points.

“I think it’s important to protect everybody, so it is a reasonable public health restriction at this point in time,” said Assemblyman Phil Steck.

Steck explained while COVID restrictions have led him to handle constituent concerns over the phone and via Zoom more often, he is still able to effectively debate with his fellow lawmakers as session gets underway.

“There’s no question that it’s not ideal,” Steck said. “We are doing conference in-person with heavy restrictions because conference really doesn’t work well on zoom.”

The legislative office building, where a number of lawmaker offices are located and hearings are held, is closed to visitors until further notice.

“Look, its a $212 billion state budget, a lot of important issues, a lot of controversial issues that the public wants to be heard on,” said Senator Dan Stec, “and we should be making it easier, not more difficult for them to access their state officials.”

Stec said that in addition to using Zoom to meet with people, he is always willing to meet constituents in his district. However, for advocates and members of the public who want to make their voices heard to certain committee members with special interests, Stec said coming to Albany has been the best option.

“We’re all here on a session day, and you might want to meet with people that might not be your legislator. They might be someone from another part of the state,” he explained. “It’s not reasonable to expect them to drive out to Buffalo to meet with somebody. If they want to come to Albany and catch them, they should be able to do that.”

Legislative session and committee meetings can be streamed online through the senate and assembly websites.

Masks are required in the Capitol and capacity is limited. Read the full list of restrictions.

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