One of the affects of the Pandemic has been to introduce Zoom to our lives, and it will not leave once we are all vaccinated and the COVID-19 virus has been tamed. There will be more virtual meetings and remote work, and virtual meetings via Zoom or Webex or whatever platform are here to stay. Senate Bill 94 recognizes this reality. Yes, there will still be physical in person public meetings of our government agencies and boards and House and Senate Committees, but the option of simulcasting that meeting via Zoom so more people can participate is an idea that has come and it is here to stay.
Last year, as part of the emergency Pandemic package, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 243(S) that allowed an advisory body to hold a virtual meeting, if there is an anchor location that is open to the public, allows any public body to hold public meetings during a state of emergency, and clarified that public bodies must allow a member with a disability to attend a meeting electronically as a reasonable accommodation, unless doing so would present an undue burden. This bill’s provisions are to expire on June 30, 2021.
Thus, Senate Bill 94 makes this change permanent. It makes permanent changes to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) that allow any public body to hold a virtual meeting if there is a physical anchor location where the public can attend the meeting in person and other notice and access requirements are met.
|Senate Bill 94 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Hansen, Ennis, Gay, S.McBride, Sokola|
|Baumbach, Griffith, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Lambert, Morrison, Ramone, M.Smith, K.Williams|
|Current Status — Senate Elections & Government Affairs 3/30/21|