State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) announced today the passage of House Bill (HB) 404, sponsored by Sweeney and Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield), to allow state university trustees to attend meetings virtually.
“We can have the flexibility of remote meetings without sacrificing transparency and accountability. This legislation strikes that balance by establishing guardrails and allowing state institutions the freedom to make the best possible decisions for themselves,” said Rep. Sweeney. “House Bill 404 helps institutions adjust to the realities of the world, whether those include a global pandemic or a personal crisis, as we strive toward the future and a society free from COVID-19.”
This legislation offers flexibility for trustees by allowing state institutions of higher education to adopt their own electronic communication policies. HB 404 is 100% permissive and sets a floor of minimum standards for virtual trustee meetings. Some of these safeguards include requiring 1/3 of the trustees to attend in-person, taking all votes by roll call, having half of all meetings in-person annually, and sending notice 48 hours prior to attending a meeting electronically unless there is a declared emergency.
Additionally, as social distancing measures currently make it difficult to hold in-person meetings and universities face new challenges in planning for their fall semesters, this bill would allow state trustees to continue conducting vital operations in a safe and effective manner.
HB 404 now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.