Senate approves new rules on spectators

Senate panels to discuss broadband network

Republicans who control the state Senate have approved new rules barring disruptive spectators from watching floor debates and committee hearings.

The chamber voted 18-14 along party lines to approve the rules Tuesday.

Under the plan, anyone who violates decorum in the Senate chamber, parlor, offices or hearing rooms could be removed for 24 hours. Third-time offenders could be barred from any Senate space for the remainder of the two-year legislative session.

Observers in the Senate’s overhead gallery would be barred from using any electronics as well as displaying any object or sign. Anyone who attends a Senate committee meeting must remain seated and silent.

Republicans are trying to avoid a repeat of last session, when protesters routinely disrupted Senate floor debates and committee meetings.