Since the California State Senate has authorized the use of remote voting, let’s take a look at how the process in the Senate works. Note, at this time, that the Assembly has not authorized remote voting yet.
First, remote voting is limited to only policy and fiscal committees. It is not currently authorized for floor votes. If a Senator wants to be able to vote remotely, they must obtain approval for that accommodation request, and the request must be COVID-19 related. If approved, the Senator has to participate in the Committee hearing from their district office.
In addition, for a Senator to be able to participate remotely in a committee hearing, the Committee Chair and a majority of the members of the committee must be physically present in the Capitol for the committee hearing.
Per the resolution that enacted these new provisions, Senate Resolution 86, the remote voting rules only apply during emergencies, which include – a state of emergency declared by the Governor, a local emergency that was proclaimed pursuant to the Government Code, or an imminent threat of such a local or state emergency.
Senators participating remotely may do so by use of a telephone, teleconference, or other electronic means. The public can also participate remotely in committee hearings. They can do so by any means that the Senate committee makes available. In addition to in-person testimony, Senate committees have also allowed remote video testimony and telephone testimony.
Although remote voting on the floor of the Senate is not currently authorized, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins has noted that it remains an option for the Senate depending on conditions related to the COVID-19 state of emergency develop.
You can read the transcript of today’s podcast here.