Advocates call for permanent reforms to guarantee hybrid open meetings

The Massachusetts Legislature today moved to extend remote access for public meetings until March 31, 2025. The proposed extension, part of the state’s supplemental budget bill, now requires Governor Healey’s approval.

 The ACLU of Massachusetts and Common Cause Massachusetts released the following joint statement in response:

“Since early 2020, public bodies have been able to carry out their responsibilities in person, remotely, or in a hybrid manner. This has been transformative for members of the public who previously faced barriers attending exclusively in-person meetings—particularly people with disabilities, caregiving responsibilities, and limited transportation. Ensuring that the law does not abruptly revert to in-person-only meetings is an important first step, but we need permanent reforms to modernize participation in public meetings once and for all. This session, the legislature has the opportunity to pass a new law guaranteeing hybrid public participation in open meetings—now and for the future.”

 The ACLU and Common Cause Massachusetts back a legislative proposal (H.3040/S.2024) that will ensure greater access to open meetings for everyone—particularly for people with disabilities, caregiving responsibilities, and limited transportation—by allowing officials and members of the public to attend meetings in person or remotely. The bill is also endorsed by Boston Center for Independent Living, Disability Law Center, League of Women Voters of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, MASSPIRG, New England First Amendment Coalition, and New England Newspaper & Press Association.