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Remote participation in legislative meetings proposed

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As the House and Senate take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a South Florida Democrat filed a bill Thursday that could allow some lawmakers to participate remotely in legislative meetings during public-health emergencies.

Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, filed the bill (SB 648) for consideration during the legislative session that starts March 2.

Under the proposal, lawmakers seeking to use remote technology to participate in committee meetings or floor sessions would need approval from the Senate president or House speaker. Also, the majority of members of the House and Senate would have to be physically present to constitute quorums for floor sessions or committee meetings.

The Florida Constitution includes a series of requirements about quorums and procedures, and lawmakers are currently required to be physically present to take part and vote in meetings. Taddeo’s bill would apply during public-health emergencies and other declared states of emergency.