Koehler and Kelly’s bill would seek to renew this exception until July 1 of this year, according to a news release.
“Local governments need the option to meet virtually, so that they can meet in a way that is both safe and accessible,” Kelly said. “This bill will help provide much needed relief to local public officials throughout our state and better enable them to safely continue to do the work of serving our communities while ensuring the public access to their own government.”
The new bill comes at a time when communities across the state are reeling from a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases and COVID related hospitalizations reach their highest point during the pandemic as omicron becomes the dominate variant.
“As new variants emerge, we have to keep moving forward. Virtual meetings allow key staff members to attend meetings when sickness or quarantine keeps them home,” said Clark County commissioner Rick Lohnes.
“County Boards of Commissioners must have at least two voting members present to pass a resolution,” explained Clark County Commissioner and Board President Melanie Flax Wilt. “Virtual technology allows us to conduct real-time public meetings that keep county government running despite health concerns. Nothing can take the place of face-to-face meetings, but this option allows commissioners and the public to engage without unnecessary health risks.”
If the bill is enacted, public bodies would still be required to establish a quorum for voting purpose and give 24 hours notice prior to all public meetings.
Likewise, public meetings would still be required to host witnesses and receive evidence in accordance with other Open Meetings Act requirements, the news release stated.
The bill now awaits a committee referral.