Ohio House approves Manchester’s bill


COLUMBUS – Bipartisan legislation permitting boards of trustees of state institutions of higher education to adopt policies that allow trustees to virtually attend board meetings passed the Ohio House, state Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) announced.

Manchester noted the bill was inspired by discussions with a resident in her district who serves as a trustee for Wright State University.

“My constituent’s commute to Wright State is over an hour, resulting in financial burdens such as gas and hotel costs, as well as scheduling and general time constraints,” Manchester said. “Implementing a successful electronic community policy through this bill will encourage more involvement and engagement in Ohio.”

If a state institution decides to adopt their own electronic communication policy, they must meet the following requirements under the bill:

• A trustee must attend no less than 50 percent of regular meetings in person each year.

• One-third of the trustees must be present in person at the meeting location.

• All votes must be taken by roll call at the meeting.

• A trustee who is virtually attending the meeting must notify the chairperson of that intent at least 48 hours before the meeting, except in the case of a declared emergency.

• A trustee who is virtually attending the meeting is considered to be present at the meeting, is counted for purposes of establishing a quorum and may vote at the meeting.

Manchester and joint sponsor state Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) introduced the same legislation as House Bill 404 last General Assembly. The measure passed the Ohio House but was amended in the Senate to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby changing the initial intent and term of the legislation

“This legislation is completely permissive,” Manchester said. “The purpose of the bill is to give our higher education institutions an option and a standard to adopt a policy.”

H.B. 77 passed with a vote of 79-17 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.