As COVID-19 Spreads, Legislature Moves to Adjust Sessions

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The legislature is announcing several adjustments in its activities to reduce the risk of lawmakers contracting COVID-19.

The virus has already claimed 16 lives and infected 141 persons across the country.

According to the speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, the legislature will now reduce its weekly sessions to once a week. Members are also now evaluating how they can conduct sessions electronically and want to find a way to record and track the activities of every lawmaker.

Although the legislature has not arrived on the specific method yet, the speaker has said the legislature plans to keep its activities open to the public.

Chambers noted that even though lawmakers were hoping to start visiting the Capitol Building less frequently and conducting activities remotely, the administrative functions of the legislature would not be affected.

“All other business, including payment of legitimate vendors, procurement, maintenance, and security of the building still remains the House’s priority,” he said.

In the past, lawmakers have been reluctant to adopt technology to increase transparency. The legislature has no website and copies of bills introduced in either house are not routinely published online. Additionally, lawmakers refused to adopt an electronic voting system paid for by donors that would let the public know how each member votes on various issues.

Meanwhile, a statement issued on April 29 by the speaker’s office said claims of payments for all vendors of the House of Representatives were being reviewed for the appropriate intervention.

This comes after a video was circulated on social media showing a contractor protesting his delayed payment by blocking the speaker’s vehicle from moving. Security officers were seen forcefully removing the man in a move that has been widely condemned on radio talk shows and online comments.

“This will include the recent development concerning Mr. Gus Winn and his company, whose services were contracted to paint or give the Capitol Building a facelift,” the statement noted, addressing the concern of the protesting man.

The speaker said he was not the one who ordered the excessive force taken against Winn. Winn has given radio interviews where he said he borrowed money to prefinance the work he did on the building. Now, those creditors are after him, he said. However, while the speaker calls the incident unfortunate, he noted that “Mr. Winn’s action was deleterious to the running of the House of Representatives.”

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Ida Reeves

Ida Reeves holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Liberia in Mass Communications and Sociology. She graduated from the Young Political Leadership School and has worked in the past for Farbric Radio, Freedom Radio, and Frontier newspaper.

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