The Massachusetts Senate yesterday passed a new joint hybrid hearing rule, requiring that “hearings shall be made available on a platform that permits remote public participation from outside the hearing room through audio and video technology” barring technical or logistical obstacles. The vote follows similar action by the House earlier this month.
The ACLU of Massachusetts and Common Cause Massachusetts released the following joint statement in response:
“We applaud the Senate for voting to make hybrid hearings the default, and thank Senate President Spilka and Speaker Mariano for their shared commitment to greater public access to and participation with the legislative process. Our democracy works best when everyone can participate—and we know that people with disabilities, people with limited transportation, and people with family caregiving responsibilities depend on remote and hybrid access. This legislative session, Massachusetts lawmakers have the chance to promote open meeting access for all by passing reforms to permanently allow both officials and constituents to attend meetings in person or remotely. Access to public meetings should never again hinge on a person’s physical mobility, or their ability to afford a car, get time off work, or find a care provider.”
For information about An Act to Modernize Participation in Public Meetings (HD3261/SD2017), go to: www.aclum.org/openmeetingsforall