What are the permissible reasons for remote participation?
Any member of a public body may participate remotely in accordance with current Massachusetts state law.
What are the acceptable means of remote application?
Acceptable means of remote participation include telephone, internet, or satellite enabled audio or video conferencing, or any other technology that enables the remote participant and all persons present at the meeting location to be clearly audible to one another. Text messaging, instant messaging, email and web chat without audio are not acceptable methods of remote participation. Note that accommodations must be made for any public body member who requires TTY service, video relay service, or other form of adaptive communications.
What are the minimum requirements for remote participation?
Any public body using remote participation during a meeting must ensure that the following minimum requirements are met:
1.Members of a public body who participate remotely and all persons present at the meeting location must be clearly audible to each other; and
2.All votes taken during a meeting in which a member participates remotely must be by roll call vote.
What procedures must be followed if remote participation is used at a meeting?
At the start of any meeting during which a member of the public body will participate remotely, the chair must announce the name of any member who is participating remotely. This information must also be recorded in the meeting minutes.
Members of public bodies who participate remotely may vote and shall not be deemed absent for purposes of G.L.c.39, § 23D. In addition, members who participate remotely may participate in executive sessions but must state at the start of any such session that no other person is present or able to hear the discussion at the remote location, unless the public body has approved the presence of that individual.
If technical difficulties arise as a result of utilizing remote participation, the chair (or, in the chair’s absence, person chairing the meeting) may decide how to address the situation. Public bodies are encouraged, whenever possible, to suspend discussion while reasonable efforts are made to correct any problem that interfaces with a remote participant’s ability to hear or be heard clearly by all persons present at the meeting location. If a remote participant is disconnected from the meeting, the minutes must note that fact and the time at which the disconnection occurred.