An Act To Implement Recommendations of the Right To Know Advisory Committee Concerning Remote Participation in Public Proceedings
Sec. A-1. 1 MRSA §403-A is enacted to read:
§ 403-A. Public proceedings through other means of communication
(1) An emergency has been declared in accordance with Title 22, section 802, subsection 2-A or Title 37-B, section 742;
(2) The public proceeding is necessary to take action to address the emergency; and
(3) The body otherwise complies with the provisions of this section to the extent practicable based on the circumstances of the emergency;
Sec. B-1. 32 MRSA §88, sub-§1, ¶D, as amended by PL 2007, c. 274, §19, is further amended to read:
Sec. B-2. 39-A MRSA §151, sub-§5, as amended by PL 2003, c. 608, §9, is further amended to read:
Part A of this bill allows members of a body subject to the Freedom of Access Act to participate in meetings of the body through telephonic, video, electronic or other similar means of communication under certain conditions; however, the bill does not allow members of publicly elected bodies to participate in public proceedings unless physically present. The body must have adopted a written policy authorizing remote participation with criteria that must be met before a member may participate remotely, but the policy may not allow a member to participate remotely in an executive session of the body. The bill also requires that notice of the proceeding must be given as if no members were participating remotely, each member of the body must be able to hear and speak to all other members, members of the public must be able to hear all members of the body, each member participating remotely must identify anyone else present at the location from which the member is participating, documents or materials discussed or presented at the proceeding must have been received by or transmitted to members participating remotely and all votes must be taken by roll call vote. A member who is not physically present may not vote in a quasi-judicial proceeding of the body. A quorum of the body must be physically present unless an emergency has been declared and the proceeding is necessary to address the emergency. If the body conducts proceedings with members participating remotely, the body must also hold at least one proceeding annually where no members participate remotely.
Under current law, the following state agencies are authorized to use remote-access technology to conduct meetings: the Finance Authority of Maine, the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, the Emergency Medical Services' Board and the Workers' Compensation Board. Part B provides a specific exemption from the new requirements for the Emergency Medical Services' Board and the Workers' Compensation Board and does not affect the existing authority of those agencies or the Finance Authority of Maine or the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to use remote-access technology to conduct meetings.