Assembleia Legislativa do Rio de Janeiro | Brazil
Written on September, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic forced legislative assemblies worldwide to adapt to new ways of working while maintaining their essential functions. The Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro was no exception, as it sought to ensure the continuity of legislative processes while keeping its members and staff safe. This essay will explore the Assembly’s journey to implement remote deliberation, highlighting the challenges faced, the lessons learned, and the potential long-term impact on the legislative process.
Rapid Implementation of Remote Work:
The Assembly’s first priority was to minimise social contact without compromising its ability to function. Meetings and face-to-face events were suspended, and a resolution was proposed to regulate deliberative meetings for plenary sessions. The Assembly looked to the Brazilian Senate for guidance, opting to use the Zoom platform for remote deliberation. Within two weeks, the Assembly was able to hold its first remote sessions, thanks in part to the support of its television channel, TV ALERJ.
Adapting to Remote Deliberation:
The transition to remote work was not without challenges, particularly for parliamentarians who needed time to adapt to the new system. The Assembly offered technical support to help its members become comfortable with remote deliberation, and within two weeks, most participants were confident in the process. To streamline decision-making during the pandemic, the Assembly adopted a measure that allowed only the House Committee on Rules to give opinions on Covid-19-related proposals.
Impressive Outcomes and Increased Transparency:
Between March 31, 2020, and September 17, 2020, the Assembly held 320 sessions, discussing a total of 779 proposals related to the pandemic. Remote deliberation enabled the Assembly to hold 49 public hearings, enhancing transparency and public engagement in the legislative process. The success of these remote sessions also led to the decision to allow committee meetings to take place via Zoom.
The Lasting Legacy of Remote Work:
The experience of remote deliberation during the pandemic has demonstrated the potential for long-term changes in the way the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro operates. Plans are already underway to incorporate remote conference rooms into the Assembly’s relocation efforts, reflecting the inevitable shift toward remote work that was accelerated by the pandemic.
The Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro has shown remarkable adaptability in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, embracing remote deliberation to ensure the continuity of its legislative processes. Through rapid implementation, adaptation, and a commitment to transparency, the Assembly has successfully navigated the challenges of the pandemic and paved the way for a lasting legacy of remote work in the legislative process.
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