Ciresi legislation would allow municipal boards to meet remotely during emergencies

HARRISBURG, June 23 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, has introduced legislation intended to ensure that municipal boards and commissions could conduct business remotely during a declared disaster or emergency.

Introduced as H.B. 2619, the bill was referred to the House Local Government Committee today.

“It’s incredibly important that, no matter what happens, Pennsylvania municipalities can continue to function and serve the public,” Ciresi said. “My bill would make sure that local boards and commissions can continue to conduct public business in any situation, be it the COVID-19 pandemic or anything that might happen in the future.”

Act 15 of 2020, which was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf earlier this year, addressed municipal powers during a declared emergency or disaster. The legislation allowed quorum requirements for municipal governing bodies to be met through an authorized telecommunication device during a declared emergency, allowing an exception to the requirement for all participating members to be physically present at one location.

Many municipalities shifted to conducting virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of social distancing guidelines and limits on public gatherings.

H.B. 2619 would clarify that these new provisions included in Act 15 of 2020 also would apply to municipal boards and commissions.

There is related legislation recently announced from Reps. Ben Sanchez and Elizabeth Hanbidge, both of Montgomery County.