Massachusetts Emergency Electronic Meeting Law Expires March 31

Massachusetts Emergency Electronic Meeting Law Expires March 31

Many local congregations have been conducting Annual Meetings remotely, or in a hybrid on-site and remote manner, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Connecticut and Rhode Island laws allow for this, except where forbidden in an organization's bylaws (see advice from UCC General Counsel Heather Kimmel here).
In Massachusetts, an emergency law has been in effect during the pandemic to allow nonprofit organizations to conduct remote Annual Meetings.  However, the current emergency law expires on March 31, 2023.  Unless there is further action by the legislature, remote participants will no longer be able to cast legally-binding votes, or to be counted towards a quorum, after that date.
Attorney Elizabeth Reinhardt, SNEUCC General Counsel, has advised the Conference as follows:
"Under existing law, members must vote at a meeting at which a quorum is present 'in person' or 'by proxy'.  The emergency legislation expanded the definition of 'in person' to include virtual presence.  When it goes away on March 31, 2023, the requirements will revert to existing law."
"This is a concern for many nonprofit organizations throughout the state, and legislation is pending which could resolve the issue," said Dawn Hammond, Executive Minister for Policy and Finance. "Meanwhile, local congregations in Massachusetts should plan their Annual Meetings in such a way as to comply with existing law."

The SNEUCC Annual Meeting will be held at the DCU Center in Worcester on June 17th.  Delegates are encouraged to attend in person if they can.  Unless the law changes, only those on site will be able to cast legal ballots.  However, the meeting planners seek to make the meeting as accessible as possible to those unable to attend in person, and will invite remote participation to the greatest extent possible.

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