Teleconferencing open meeting changes approved

Lawmakers passed a bill April 18 intended to use technology to create more efficient and transparent government public meetings.

LB212, introduced by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, applies to risk management pools, organizations created under the Municipal Cooperative Financing Act and organizations created under the Interlocal Cooperation Act that sell electricity or natural gas at wholesale on a multi-state basis.

The bill allows those organizations to designate a nonvoting individual, not included as part of the quorum, to be present at a site where a public hearing is being held to keep the site open for members of the public who wish to attend the public hearing by telephone conference or videoconference.

The bill allows qualified entities to hold more than 50 percent of their meetings by telephone or videoconferencing as long as at least one meeting is not held in that manner. It also extends the allowed length of a telephone conference call from two hours to no more than five hours.

LB212 was amended to include provisions of two additional bills.

Provisions of LB191, introduced by Gretna Sen. Andrew La Grone, harmonize bond definitions and delete obsolete language regarding financial instruments approved and agreed to prior to July 1, 1999. The provisions limit to one year the period for which a governmental unit may exceed the allowable growth percentage if approved by voters at a meeting.

The provisions also change the publication requirement prior to a budget hearing from five calendar days to four and define such days to include the day of publication but not the day of the hearing.

Provisions from LB239, introduced by Adams Sen. Myron Dorn, amend the County Budget Act to mirror the four-day notice language in the Nebraska Budget Act.

LB212 passed on a vote of 49-0.

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