Approval of Physical Presence Bill

Price bill to require physical presence at open meetings receives bipartisan approval

The Michigan House has approved legislation to encourage greater transparency by requiring the physical presence of elected officials at public meetings, announced bill author state Rep. Amanda Price.

“We are frequently trying to make accommodations for public officials who can’t be present, when the overriding consideration should be for the benefit of the public,” said Rep. Price, R-Park Township.

Michigan’s Open Meetings Act requires all decisions and votes of a public body to be made at a meeting open to the public. However, the act does not define whether a public official may be present through non-physical—or electronic—means. Rep. Price says that electronic presence at meetings allows public officials to participate in open meetings without having to face the public.

“When the public elects you to an official post, they expect you to be at the meetings of your board,” Rep. Price said. “There are situations where people can’t be physically present at a board meeting, but there is nothing wrong with simply being absent once in a while.”

House Bill 4182 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.