The Sun Chronicle editorial: Finally, some good news from Beacon Hill
This editorial originally appeared in the Sun Chronicle on July 29, 2023 and was written by the Sun Chronicle editorial team.
The second bill, which fell short in the last legislative session, would permanently allow virtual and hybrid participation in public meetings first granted during the pandemic.
As we have said before, Zoom meetings provide far more public access to what’s going on at town hall — always a good thing. Others agree.
Eight groups — the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the Disability Law Center, the ACLU of Massachusetts, Boston Center for Independent Living, Common Cause Massachusetts, MassPIRG, the New England First Amendment Coalition and the New England Newspaper and Press Association — have joined together to support the effort to make hybrid participation permanent.
The groups argue that remote meetings preserved public bodies’ ability to operate, but also “opened the door to civic engagement for members of the public and many people who had previously been shut out,” including seniors with mobility issues, people with disabilities, parents with young children, people with elder care and adult care responsibilities, people who can’t drive or afford taxis or rideshares, people with chronic medical conditions, and people who just want to know more about their government.
“Remote access is the latest instance of universal design — alongside curb cuts, elevators, closed captioning, audiobooks, and other features — that began as accommodations and expanded to universal popularity,” the groups wrote. “Like these innovations and others emerging during the pandemic, remote access to public meetings should become a permanent feature.”
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