Similar to what lawmakers have been trying to practice this session, some lawmakers want local boards and commission members to show their faces when talking and voting remotely.
The bill, which passed the Planning & Development Committee, last week would require boards of selectmen, city councils, boards of representatives, local and regional boards of education, zoning commissions and other local bodies to show their faces on Zoom when talking and voting.
Rep. Doug Dubitsky, R-Chaplin, expressed concern that there would be a lack of a quorum at some of these local events because in order to turn the video on during one of the meetings in his remote part of the state might be too much for the Internet to handle.
He said he was chairing a local commission meeting when his video suddenly went out, but they could still hear him so they carried on with the meeting. He said they barely had a quorum and the way the bill is written would mean they would not be able to carry on the meeting.
Rep. Eleni Kavros DeGraw, who co-chairs the committee, acknowledged the concerns, but promised there was still time to tweak the bill before the June 7 deadline.
“I believe that there will be changes made to this,” Kavros DeGraw said.
She added: “Sometimes it’s necessary for better broadband to have your camera turned off.”
Rep. Joe Zullo, R-East Haven, said when he first saw the bill he thought “it imposes more onerous standards for local boards and commissions than we expect from ourselves.”
In order to vote on legislation, lawmakers much have their cameras turned on, which has resulted in some legislating while driving incidents in the past.
However, Zullo said his gut tells him they should be headed in this direction even if they aren’t imposing the standard on themselves.
Zullo said he supports the overall concept and voted to get the bill out of committee even though he acknowledged the need for more work.
Rep. Tami Zawistowski, R-East Granby, said she lives in a part of the state where every time she gets a phone call she gets knocked offline.
She said there are issues with how town meeting forms of government are addressed and she voted against the bill to flag the issue if it’s raised by the House in the future.
Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-Fairfield, said the Freedom of Information Commission has allowed telephonic access to meetings for decades so the balance will be a difficult one for lawmakers to thread.
“I am hoping the bill will continue to move forward, but just to be consistent and note that concern I will vote no,” McCarthy Vahey added.