State Representatives Vote To Extend Remote Town Meetings

Jason Graziadei •

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The Massachusetts House of Representatives has voted to extend the ability of municipalities to hold government meetings remotely through March 2025.

The state had allowed government bodies to convene online during the COVID-19 pandemic, foregoing the usual requirement for boards and committees to meet in person. That waiver was originally intended to expire when the state of emergency was concluded - which happened in June 2021 - but the state legislature voted to extend the option to hold remote meetings through the end of March 2023.

With that deadline looming, the Massachusetts House of Representatives just passed a $282 million supplemental budget bill that included a provision to further extend the ability to hold remote government meetings for the next two years. The bill is expected to be approved in the state Senate and signed into law by Gov. Maura Healey.

"Extending remote town meetings expands democracy,” said Nantucket's state representative Dylan Fernandes. “This legislation allows public bodies to hold meetings in a manner that best serves the needs of their communities, and allows greater flexibility and accessibility for people to participate in the democratic process.”

On Nantucket, there is currently a variety of government meetings, with some boards and committees opting to stay strictly remote, with no in-person component (for example, the Nantucket Planning Board), while others have decided to return to in-person only meetings (the Nantucket Land Bank). The Nantucket Select Board has attempted to do both, opting for a hybrid-style meeting in which board members, staff, and the public can convene in-person at the Public Safety Facility's community room, while still allowing people to participate remotely.

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