House Bill 216 will continue the emergency practice or remote notarization and witnessing by Delaware attorneys via Zoom or other web based video/audio conferences until June 30, 2022. It passed the House unanimously last week and will likely pass the Senate this week as well.
This was an emergency measure enacted under Governor Carney’s COVID State of Emergency Declaration and it is set to expire this coming June 30. So this bill just continues remote notarizations for another year.
|House Bill 216 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Matthews, Gray, Griffith, K.Johnson, Lynn, Morrison, K.Williams||Passed House 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||None|
|Hansen, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Poore, Walsh||Passed Senate 21-0. Brown Ennis Gay Hansen Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Bonini Hocker Lawson Lopez Pettyjohn Richardson Wilson||None|
|Current Status :||Signed by the Governor.|
The House also unanimously passed Senate Bill 94, a bill that would make virtual meetings a permanent option for all Delaware public bodies. For paranoid and petulant Republicans, that does not mean that all public meetings will forever be virtual. It means that when public meetings return to being in person, there will still be a live stream of the meeting on Zoom or some other video conferencing service, because providing that virtual option brings more public participation, not less.
Senate Bill 94 would permanently extend the authority for all public bodies to hold virtual meetings beyond the State of Emergency, as long as a physical anchor location is also provided where at least one presiding member will be present, documents introduced during meetings are also accessible to the public, and the body provides at least seven days’ notice of how the public can participate virtually.
Virtual public meetings would not be mandatory under Senate Bill 94, although public bodies would be required to permit a sitting member with a disability to participate virtually as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act in most cases.
|Senate Bill 94 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Hansen, Ennis, Gay, S.McBride, Sokola||Passed Senate 19-2. Ennis, Gay, Hansen, Lockman, Mantzavinos, Paradee, Pinkney, Poore, S.McBride, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Hocker, Lawson, Lopez, Pettyjohn, Richardson, Wilson||Bonini, Brown|
|Baumbach, Griffith, Heffernan, K.Johnson, Lambert, Morrison, Ramone, M.Smith, K.Williams||Passed House 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||None|
|Current Status —||Sent to the Governor.|
Senator Stephanie Hansen, the prime sponsor of SB 94: “Adaptation to social distancing has driven change and innovation in every corner of this nation. One positive impact we have seen in government is the ability to make our meetings more accessible and accommodating to all members of the public. The virtual and hybrid meetings of the past year have expanded public access in a way that, I believe, has made our system more responsive, democratic, and frankly convenient for the public.”
“Senate Bill 94, my bill setting the ground rules for public bodies to provide virtual and hybrid components to their meetings after the pandemic, passed the House earlier today. It is now a signature away from becoming law – a major victory for our many public boards, commissions, and other working groups.”
“The reality is people are far more likely to attend public meetings if they can participate from the safety and comfort of their own homes, and this bill makes sure that we don’t lose that option.”