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Relating to remote meetings under the open meetings law.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
SB 861 would allow a governmental body to hold open meetings via telephone or video conference without the existing emergency requirement necessary to trigger a remote open meeting. The governmental body in question would still be required to provide notice of any remote open meetings allowed by this bill.
During a declared disaster, when it is impossible or impractical to host open meetings in person, it makes sense to provide for remote open meetings. During normal times, it would be better to continue the normal practice of hosting open meetings in a physical location so they may be attended in-person while simultaneously providing a remote opt-in.
While conducting remote open meetings does not violate our liberty principles because they would make such meetings more available to one segment of the public, we are concerned that remote open meetings would be less accessible to those who are less "tech savvy" or who have inadequate access to participate remotely. Texas Action remains neutral on SB 861.