Over the past year and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, public bodies across the country have confronted the need to conduct “virtual” meetings to maintain both open government and public health. Two pieces of legislation sought to enshrine in law the ability for bodies to continue with virtual meetings. However, we testified that certain public protections need to be included in any such legislation to appropriately balance government transparency. Among these are requiring that all documents presented during a public meeting be put on the website of the public body; specifying that if the video or audio coverage during a hearing is disrupted that the discussion will be suspended until the connection is restored; and providing recordings of all meetings online.
H 5887 and S 715 both passed and have since been signed into law.