Whether it is sitting in a staff meeting, teaching middle school math or connecting with a loved one, many Hoosiers now utilize Zoom or other teleconferencing software due to COVID-19. Just as educators and private businesses had to make adjustments, local governments had to make changes too. However, during the early parts of the pandemic some concerns arose as to whether local units had the authority to host meetings virtually. Under a bill I authored this session, these entities would be given more flexibility to modernize their processes, including how they communicate and conduct business.
In the spring of 2020, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order allowing local governments to meet virtually to help flatten the curve, however that authority will expire in the future. That's why I authored House Bill 1437. I believe we should provide local governments the option to allow a limited number of members to attend virtually. This legislation would require these entities to develop policies and procedures for electronic participation. During the pandemic, local governments did see an increase in public input in part because they could attend and participate virtually. Under this bill, the public and the media would still have access to these meetings whether they are held in person or not. If Indiana is under a state of emergency, these units would be allowed to meet completely online.
While this bill does provide local governments with flexibility as to how they conduct business, I understand how crucial it is for elected leaders to meet in person and represent their constituents. This legislation would only allow a certain number of members to participate virtually if Indiana is not under a state of emergency. It also requires members to be physically present to discuss certain issues, such as budgetary and taxation matters.
Using Zoom and other teleconferencing software has become the new normal for Hoosiers. This bill would make it possible for local governments to continue this progress and make decisions in a wide range of situations by using these resources to hold public meetings. If you have any questions about this moving legislation or have any input about how I can better serve you as your state representative, please contact my office at H32@iga.in.gov.
State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32,
which includes all of Tipton County and portions of
Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.
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