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Virtual Public Meetings Law renewed by legislature, heads to governor

February 9, 2022
Brigid Kelly News

COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate today passed House Bill (HB) 51, which was amended to allow public bodies to conduct their required meetings virtually. State Reps. Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Kyle Koehler (R-Springfield) introduced HB 538 less than two weeks ago and were able to see the language amended into HB 51 as it headed back from the Senate in order for their bill to take effect immediately.

“Passage of this bill is a critical step in ensuring that local governments can make their meetings safer and more accessible,” said Rep. Kelly. “We are ensuring that these governing bodies can operate transparently, that they can continue their important business, and that Ohioans can continue to have access to their government.”

“I applaud the General Assembly’s quick action on renewing virtual meetings by amending our House Bill 538 into House Bill 51 in the Senate, and I am grateful for my local officials for bringing this issue to the my attention,” said Rep. Koehler. “It is through the hard work of good people that Clark County continues to prosper. I hope this temporary relief allows these folks to continue to do good work for Clark County.”

The Ohio Open Meetings Act, meant to encourage transparency in government, requires public entities to conduct all public business in open meetings that the public may attend and observe. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ohio General Assembly temporarily waived the in-person meeting requirement, allowing for remote gatherings. This exception to the Open Meetings Act expired July 1, 2021. HB 51 will renew this exception until June 30, 2022.

The bill now heads the governor’s desk for a signature.