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Virtual Public Meetings Renewed by Legislature, Heads to Governor

February 9, 2022
J. Kyle Koehler News

COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate today passed House Bill 51, which was amended to allow public bodies to conduct their required meetings virtually until July 1, 2022. 

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. H. B. 51 seeks to renew this exception until July 1, 2022.

“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 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.”

Representative Koehler (R-Springfield) and Representative Kelly (D- Cincinnati) introduced HB538 less than two weeks ago and were able to see the language amended into a bill headed back from the Senate in order for the law 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.”

H.B. 51 passed in the House with an 88-1 vote. The bill now heads the governor’s desk for a signature