Ohio state representative proposes remote meetings for public bodies

By: - March 17, 2020 12:30 am

State Rep. Lisa Sobecki. Photo from Ohio House website.

As closures and restrictions tighten across the state, one legislator wants the state to allow remote meetings for public bodies.

State Rep. Lisa Sobecki, D-Toledo, filed House Bill 557 in response to other measures put in place in response to COVID-19.

The bill’s language would only apply when a state of emergency is declared by the governor, but does not create a loophole around Sunshine laws.

“During this extraordinary crisis we are facing due to COVID-19, it is important that public officials have the option to practice prudent behavior by limiting in-person interactions in order to protect their own health and the health of their communities, in which they have an insignificant public presence,” Sobecki said.

While there is an emergency clause in the bill which would allow the bill to go into effect as soon as the governor signs it, movement on the bill may take time as the Ohio House remains dormant due to the COVID-19 risks.

No voting sessions or committee hearings will be held, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder has said and the Senate has also implemented a “remote, telework policy” through April 6.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.