Legislation impacting public records and meetings moved through the House Governmental Affairs Committee this week.
Committee members voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Senate Bill 201, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, to establish rules for virtual public meetings. The bill cleared the Senate with a vote of 35-0 in April.
Hewitt, a candidate for governor, explained the legislation was spawned from benefits of video conferencing revealed during the pandemic, including increased government transparency, increased participation, and reduced travel costs, as well as more opportunities for disabled citizens to take part.
SB 201 was crafted based on feedback from numerous public hearings by a legislative task force over the last year, and it’s designed to leverage the advantages of remote hearings while ensuring in-person meetings for local boards and those overseeing significant spending or public impact.
"This bill is providing opportunity for some statewide boards to meet remotely some of the time," Hewitt said.
The bill requires local public bodies to always meet in person, while allowing boards that are "beyond a regional scope" to hold meetings remotely.