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Bipartisan Bill to Enable Local Government Agencies, Public Bodies to Conduct Meetings Electronically Heads to Governor

Measure is in Response to COVID-19, Applies in Times of Emergency

The Senate gave final legislative approval to a bill on Thursday, approved 64-0 by the full Assembly on Monday, to allow a public body – as defined under the “Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act” – to provide notice of and conduct meetings and public business by electronic means during a state of emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency.

The legislation (A-3850) further requires that public business conducted by such means be limited to matters necessary for the continuing operation of government and be relevant to applicable declarations of emergency. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Bipartisan sponsors, Assembly members Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), BettyLou DeCroce (R-Essex, Morris, Passaic) and Bill Moen (D-Camden, Gloucester), issued the following joint statement:

“Government must continue to function all the way down to the very local levels. However, in times of emergency, in-person meetings may be impractical and can be a public health risk. To ensure the safety of the public and staff as well as preserve transparency, agencies should be able to conduct public business by electronic means. Having a provision to allow for this is just smart policy, and today, with increasing need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, it would serve every community well.”