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Committees adjourn early because public cannot watch livestreaming on the website.

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION: MICROSOFT - Microsoft's Teams program had worldwide problems Monday, March 15, shutting down most of the Oregon Legislature's work.A worldwide outage of Microsoft Teams forced the closure of virtual Oregon legislative committee proceedings on Monday afternoon.

The outage started around 12:30 p.m. March 15, before afternoon proceedings began around 1 p.m. Committees suspended their meetings before Microsoft reported that most issues stemming from the outage had been resolved in a tweet posted at 4:19 p.m.

The outage did not stop Gov. Kate Brown, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek from giving their pitch for a $250 million summer school and child care plan to a legislative budget subcommittee. They announced the plan last week.

Committee proceedings still could be seen on the Legislature's broadcast channels, but most people have access to committee and chamber proceedings only through livestreaming on the legislative website, which depends on Microsoft Teams for livestreaming.

The Capitol itself has been closed to the public for almost one year — the coronavirus pandemic prompted the closure starting March 18, 2020 — and the Legislature has been meeting virtually since then.

Exceptions were made for three special sessions in 2020 — on June 24-26, Aug. 10 and Dec. 21 — for opening day of the 2021 Legislature on Jan. 11, and for weekly pro forma sessions since then to allow introduction of bills. The Senate and House started in early March to vote on some bills.

The Legislature's lawyers have concluded that votes of the full House and Senate must take place in person, although the chambers have adopted rules that allow for social distancing by members.

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