(Apr. 23, 2020) On April 8, 2020, the Chilean Senate adopted a protocol for carrying out committee sessions remotely during the 90-day state of health emergency declared on March 18, 2020, by President Sebastián Piñera.
The protocol provides that during the emergency senators may participate and vote in committee sessions either in person or through remote or telematic (remota o telemática) means, in the latter case, after informing the secretariat of their appropriate committee. Those who participate remotely must do so from an office or building adequately prepared for such participation. Ministers, undersecretaries, or special guests who wish to participate remotely must send a request beforehand so that proper computer security safeguards may be maintained.
Quorums will be determined by the total number of senators participating both in person and remotely. Senators may not change their mode of participation once a session has started. Remote participation does not generate the right to per diem compensation.
During remote sessions, participants have up to five minutes for their presentations and another five minutes for the justification of their vote. Remote participants may also submit within four business days after the session their presentations in writing, not to exceed two pages in length, to be filed in the Sessions Diary. Senators who participate remotely and vote electronically must be displayed on the screen when casting their votes.
Sessions with in-person or remote participation are to be carried out weekly unless an urgent matter requires that a special session be convened under the same modalities. However, individual legislative committees may hold their own sessions to debate bills related to or arising from the current health emergency. Sessions of the committees on Finance; Labor and Social Welfare; Health; Economy and Constitution; and Legislation, Justice and Regulation take priority, though other committees may be convened to deal with other urgent matters. Up to two committees may meet in the morning session and up to two in the afternoon session.
Finally, bills related to matters arising from the declaration of the health emergency must be submitted immediately to the pertinent committee for consideration.