Oklahoma’s bill allowing public meetings to be streamed online permanently moves forward

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — The full Senate has given its approval to a bill that would make virtual town hall meetings a permanent feature.

Drafted by Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, Senate Bill 1547 would require school boards, local municipalities, state agencies and other public bodies equipped with websites and a high-speed Internet connection to broadcast and publish their meetings online.

“The more opportunities citizens have to participate in and follow the activities of their schools and their government, the stronger our society as a whole is,” said Senator Howard. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to move this legislation forward and ensure that all Oklahomans have the opportunity to have their voices heard at all levels of government, whether in person or remotely.”

Public entities first embraced virtual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic, but eventually returned to in-person after the state of emergency declaration ended. However, the accessibility discovered with the broadcast and recording of meetings has proven beneficial to Oklahomans.

“As technology evolves, we must evolve with it,” said Senator Howard. “Live streams and remote working are now staples of modern life, and we need to enable our local and state governments to conduct their business online and in person. This change will be useful during future pandemics, natural disasters and other emergencies, but will also lay the foundation for a more informed general public.

SB1547 will also allow public agencies to hold an executive session virtually if a national or countywide emergency is declared.

SB1547 will now go to the House for consideration.

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