Municipal boards, committees and commissions that have continued to meet remotely or with hybrid participation can continue to do so until at least next spring.
As reported on BNEWS, the remote/hybrid meetings allowed under the state’s Special Act of 2022 Chapter 22, Section 26 in response to the pandemic were set to end on July 15. However, last week the State Senate passed a bill that would extend the allowance until December of 2023 and the House followed course with its own version that would extend them until March 31, 2023. In the end a version closer to the House bill was sent to the governor’s desk for signing.
On Saturday, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito as Acting Governor, signed the legislation that extends permission for remote meetings and participation until March 31, 2023, a notice from the Burlington Town Clerk’s Office states. The legislation was amended to include an emergency preamble thereby giving immediate effect to these changes, no additional changes were made to the Open Meeting Law.
Even if the allowance for remote participation does end next spring, Burlington does have a remote participation policy, passed in 2019, that states that if a member of a board or committee cannot attend a meeting in person they can participate remotely if they arrange it with the chair and give an acceptable reason they cannot be there in person. If a member is participating remotely all votes must then be by roll call. This policy also states that a quorum of the board or committee, including the chair or someone designated to chair the meeting, must be present in person. It does not allow for the type of full remote meetings seen since the start of the pandemic.