Assembly Democrats concerned about lack of mask requirement, virtual options for upcoming session

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Assembly Democrats are concerned the upcoming legislative session may put their health at risk. That's because they may no longer have the option to attend sessions and meetings virtually. 

Assembly Democrats say they may skip an in-person inauguration event for its members on Monday, Jan. 4. Republican leadership who control the chamber are not requiring masks. 

Democrats CBS 58 spoke with say that's an unnecessary risk. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appeared in a PSA last month with Democrat Congressman Mark Pocan encouraging people in the state to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Those protocols won't be enforced for the chamber Vos controls. 

"Allow people to do their job without risking their lives and their health," said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz. 

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz and other Democrats will likely skip an inauguration event next week. They also expressed concerns about Republican leadership not allowing members to attend sessions and committee meetings virtually as they have during the pandemic. 

"As elected officials I think we have an obligation to try to set an example," said Hintz. "If we help spread the virus as a result of meeting in-person... it’s contrary to everything our state leaders have tried to do."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released a statement saying members will be asked to adhere to safety protocols but not required. 

Republican Scott Allen tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year. He sup[ports social distancing efforts in the Capitol but believes members should do their work in-person. 

"I think it sends the wrong message as a state for us as leaders in the state to say we are going to do our work in a bubble, and we expect everybody to go back to work and do their things," Allen said. 

Hintz hopes Republicans reconsider. 

"We should be leading and demonstrating and doing everything we can to minimize the spread," said Hintz. 

Democrats held a virtual inauguration event this week with Governor Tony Evers. That would allow them to not have to attend Monday's event. 

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