Last week the Senate passed legislation, which I sponsored, to allow disability commissions to authorize remote participation by their members. This required a modification to the open meeting law. The text of the bill was modified by the Committee on State Administration before passage by the Senate.
The key language appears below:
A local commission on disability may by majority vote of the commissioners at a regular meeting permit remote participation applicable to a specific meeting or generally to all of the commission’s meetings; provided, however, that the commission shall comply with all other requirements of law and regulation.
This bill was suggested by a disabled constituent in response to the problems facing disability commissions in winter, when uncleared sidewalks prevent members from attending in person. It certainly makes sense to explicitly encourage disability commissions to use all available means to include their members and the public. In fact, many public bodies practice remote participation — by speaker phone or otherwise — from time to time for a variety of reasons.
The bill is now before the House.