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With remote meetings now common, House panel OKs measure modifying limitations on members of certain public bodies

Like everyone else, members of public bodies can have health issues. However, they are still expected to fulfill their civic duties.

In the name of transparency, committee approval was given Thursday to a bill that would delete a part of law established in the COVID-19 era.

Current law permits members of certain public bodies to participate from a location not open or accessible to the public up to three times a year when “the member has been advised by a health care professional against being in a public place for personal or family medical reasons.” However, this only applies when a state of emergency has been declared.

State and local government committee hears HF198 1/19/23

Sponsored by Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park), HF198 would delete the state of emergency requirement, and match what currently exists in law for military members.

“Medical issues should not prevent participation,” she told the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee before the bill was sent to the House Floor with nary an audible negative vote.

Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden calls this a “common sense” bill, stressing that an in-person absence must be linked to medical professional’s recommendation.

She and Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) added that doing things online has become a part of normal life.


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