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Rep. Sweeney's bipartisan legislation allowing state university trustees to meet virtually passes Ohio House

Legislation offers flexibility, maintains accountability in higher education
May 19, 2021
Bride Rose Sweeney News

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today announced the passage of House Bill (HB) 77, her bipartisan legislation with Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) to allow boards of trustees at state institutions of higher education to meet virtually if they adopt an electronic communication policy. 

“The pandemic has proven that virtual meetings can work and do work. When this was in temporary law, public meetings saw record levels of participation as Ohioans took advantage of the access and convenience that technology affords,” said Rep. Sweeney. “There is no need to sacrifice accountability for flexibility when it comes to virtual public meetings. I believe that we can have both, and this legislation strikes that balance. HB 77 is a small step in the long journey of truly modernizing the State of Ohio as we update our laws to better serve the people.”

HB 77 is a floor, not a ceiling. It is entirely permissible and simply allows a board of trustees at a state institution of higher education to choose to adopt their own electronic communication policy as long as it includes the following minimum standards:

A trustee must attend no less than 50 percent of regular meetings in-person annually
One third of the trustees must be present in person at the meeting location
All votes must be taken by roll call at the meeting

“Ensuring engagement and continued cooperation among trustees of higher education institutions is important,” said Rep. Manchester. “The bill provides the flexibility for the way university boards and their trustees can implement and update meeting policies.”

HB 77 now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.