The next best thing to being there
Jan 20, 2014 | 3095 views |  0 comments | 85 85 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A state senate bill would allow members of government bodies and boards, with some exceptions, to attend meetings and vote through electronic communications without actually being at the meeting place.

Introduced by Senator Arthur Orr, the bill passed his house last year and this year and could be on a path to passage in this session. A quorum of the body must be physically present, and the communications must allow the long-distance member to hear and be heard by all participants, and roll call votes would be taken.

Local bodies would be excluded, with a requirement that members be from at least two counties.

The proposal could save the state upwards of $2 million in travel reimbursement expenses in a year’s time.

As written, the bill seems reasonable. Locally, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind board of trustees has members representing congressional districts across the state; the possibility of using virtual meeting technology on occasion would be an important option for them, and for others serving on statewide and regional boards and bodies.

Reports indicate 38 other states and the District of Columbia already have legislation on the books authorizing electronic communications, and only two specifically forbid it—Alabama is one of those.

The bill appears to be a good one that would enhance efficiency and economy in government, and we see that as a good thing.