LWVN Supports Hybrid Public Meetings
The League of Women Voters of Needham joins the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts in support of H.3040/S.2024, An Act to modernize participation in public meetings. The bill would require that meetings covered by the open meeting law be held in a hybrid format, both in-person and with the option to observe and participate remotely. The bill is sponsored by our State Representative, Denise Garlick, in the House and Jason Lewis in the Senate.
We understand that it may take time to implement this requirement for all public meetings, and the bill sets a deadline for compliance of 2030. The bill allows for hardship waivers until that deadline, as towns adapt. It also would establish a trust fund to provide grants to help municipalities upgrade their technology.
The option to participate in meetings remotely was one of the silver linings of the pandemic, and remote participation greatly increased citizen awareness of their local governments. We think in-person meetings are valuable, but that remote capability is also necessary. Remote access allows many people to participate in their government who could not otherwise do so, including seniors, people with certain disabilities, and parents of young children.
This bill would continue the increase in participation in local government.
The League of Women Voters of Needham endorses H.3040/S.2024, and urges the legislature to act quickly to make hybrid public meetings the norm.