FILE - Virginia Del. Mark Levine

Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria

(The Center Square) – Legislation that would expand the use of virtual participation in public meetings received a thumbs up Tuesday from a Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council subcommittee.

House Bill 321, sponsored by Del. Mark Levine, D-Alexandria, would allow a person to conduct public business virtually if that person cannot attend the meeting in person because of a serious medical condition or a serious medical condition of an immediate family member. There would be no limit on how many meetings a person could miss in this instance.

The bill also would expand the ability to excuse oneself from a meeting because of a personal matter. A person would be allowed to miss two meetings or up to 10% of meetings, whichever is greater. The 10% would be rounded up to the next whole number.

A public body still would require a physical quorum except when the governor has declared a state of emergency in which physical attendance is unsafe or impractical.

Sterling Rives, a member of the council, said it’s better for people to assemble in person when possible, but if they cannot, he still wants the person to be present and represent his or her constituents. The subcommittee favorably recommended the bill, 4-2.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.