COVID-19 Legislative Response OutreachA Message From the President of IRC
I wanted to reach out to you, your family, and your Capitol family and let you know that International Roll-Call® Corporation (IRC) is here for you and extends our utmost concern and best wishes for your continued health and safety.
As we all continue to cope (both individually and professionally) with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis that is sweeping across the United States and throughout the world, we are being confronted with new and, for many never imagined, questions and situations. We are all adjusting to what is our "normal" for the next weeks and maybe months that involve different work schedules, remote work environments, increased reliance on teleconference meetings, and worse. We are all balancing personal and professional responsibilities.
These are unprecedented times for medical professionals, government leaders, legislative institutions, and the general public. The pandemic situation that is controlling our lives and changing our daily routines is one of the most serious moments in the modern era. The spread of the Coronavirus and the solutions being pondered to curtail the spread as well as to respond to continuity of government continues to be a top priority to us here at IRC.
Many state legislative chambers have reached out to us for suggestions, advice, and possible solutions to remote voting, request to speak, video participation, presentation of legislation, etc. As always, legislative business is our only business and your ability to succeed in both normal daily operations as well as during times of crises is at the forefront of our minds. We know the demands on the legislature and IRC stands ready to respond to your requests for information and potential emergency services that can assist your legislature during this time of crisis.
As you know from the NCSL website Coronavirus and State Legislatures in the News and Stateside website (pdf) resources, various States have decided to adjourn early, recess or adjourn until later in April, discussing calling Special Sessions, researching meeting outside of the Capitol campus at other larger facilities to adhere to the CDC distancing guidelines, etc. We have also seen that legislatures are exploring using video conference applications such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Cisco Webex. In these situations, the Clerk or Secretary and staff are either in the chamber or accessing a remote desktop onto their workstations to conduct session and record the votes. We have found many legislative chambers to be considering these services because of the ease of integration to do "Request to Speak," which ensures that a legislator is participating and casting the vote. The IRC Remote Voting Solution will allow the option for members to vote from home, offices and/or in the chamber at their desks.
Due to the unique aspects of all legislatures, there are a myriad of ways to approach and potentially as many solutions; however, the goal of IRC is to be ready to implement the most common and affordable solution to the legislatures to allow business to be conducted in the least disruptive manner possible. The staff of IRC is available to discuss any scenario you and your leadership may need to contemplate during these challenging and stressful times.
As with federal, state, and local government actions regulating employee travel, IRC staff are also under certain restrictions. However, our phone lines are 24/7 and we stand ready for your needs. If you have any questions or require any assistance, please give us a call at 804-730-9600.
Additional COVID-19 and legislative related internet resources and articles that we are looking to for information and guidance:
- NCSL Coronavirus Resources, NCSL Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources including Health, Federal Actions and Resources, Continuity of Government, Fiscal Response, Elections Response, Public Education Response, etc.
- National Governor's Association, National Governor's Association Resources, please NOTE the section on State/Territorial Resource Pages and Other Select State Actions taken by Governors
- Center for Disease Control, Center for Disease Control and Prevention Newsroom
- US Department of State, US Department of State COVID-19 Resources
- Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations (IHME): Covid-19 Projections
- Governing Magazine, "Coronavirus Forces Legislators to Keep Their Distance"
- Pewtrusts (Stateline Article), "Cities, Legislatures Learn to Govern by Conference Call"
- New York Times, "Legislatures Meet Remotely, Limit Public as Virus Spreads" (need to login to NYTimes or create a free account to access)
- The Hill, "State legislatures eye remote voting amid coronavirus outbreak"
- AP News, Kentucky lawmakers make changes to process due to virus
- Politico (New Jersey), "New Jersey Assembly set to make history with remote voting session"
- Lancaster Online, "Pennsylvania legislature will vote remotely as coronavirus spreads"
- The Intercept, "States suspend legislatures without passing emergency coronavirus legislation. Could remote voting provide a fix?"
William C. "Bill" Schaeffer, President, International Roll-Call® Corporation