Republican State Senators prohibited from Capitol after member tests positive for COVID-19

State News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGET) – California Republican Senators are barred from working in the State Capitol after one of its members tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, lawmakers in both the senate and assembly are awaiting test results after being exposed.

All but one of California’s Republican State Senators were prohibited from participating in Thursday’s floor session.

“What’s more important?! The health or a handful of bills at the end of session?” State Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, said.

Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins directed Republican Senators to stay away from the floor and their offices, saying their presence at the capitol would be a violation of public health orders.

This comes after Senator Brian Jones tested positive for the virus, potentially exposing his colleagues after caucus events earlier in the week.

Senate leaders say moving forward. GOP members will be allowed to debate and vote from home.

“From the beginning we’ve said that science and the public health directives would be the basis for how we conduct the people’s work during the pandemic,” Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said. 

We reached out to Senator Brian Jones’ office for an update on his status but a spokesperson said they were not commenting.

Meanwhile, Republican Assemblyman Randy Voepel confirmed in a Facebook post Thursday he is Senator Jones’ roommate while working in Sacramento.

Voepel stayed off the assembly floor Thursday.

On Thursday night, it was confirmed that Voepel tested negative.

Regardless of Voepel’s exposure, work moved forward in the assembly for both parties but other Republicans in that Chamber say they have not been told to quarantine or get tested.

“Yet we’re still in session. We’re seeing the information that’s being put out that ‘we’re doing these precautions and we care about the members and staff’. But if that were true, we wouldn’t be in, taking Amendments today,” Assemblymember Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, said.  

Lawmakers vow to finish their legislative work by the end of session deadline Aug. 31.

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