CAI’s Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee (PA LAC) has been monitoring the progress of House Bill 1795 since it was introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2021. The Bill, authored by Representative Rosemary Brown, proposes reforms to voting procedures in community associations. The Bill passed the House in June and is now on the calendar for final votes in the State Senate this week.
CAI has opposed the legislation since its introduction on the grounds that the legislation was not necessary because remedies for fraud in community association elections already exist in state statutes.
However, Representative Brown has accepted multiple amendments proposed by CAI over the course of the last 12 months. As a result of these amendments that have addressed many of CAI’s concerns, the LAC has dropped its opposition to the Bill and has notified the State Senate that the LAC is neutral on this legislation.
The following are among the amendments to the original legislation accepted by Rep. Brown:
- The provision for use of an independent reviewer, as defined in the Bill, to monitor the election, count ballots and report the results, and a vote management system, as defined in the bill, is mandatory for all community associations with 500 or more units. Community associations with fewer than 500 units may opt-in to this provision.
- The provision pertaining to a “meet the candidate’s night” was amended to remove the word “meeting” so that quorum and notice requirements do not apply to meet the candidate events.
- A provision was inserted permitting the use of electronic means for meeting notices provided that unit owners agree in writing to accept notices by electronic means.
- A provision was inserted permitting the use of remote technology, except as otherwise provided in the bylaws, for unit owner participation in meetings by electronic means. This provision allows community associations to continue the pandemic-era practice of hosting meetings virtually.
- Provisions were clarified regarding the recording of meetings and the maintenance of such recordings by the executive board.
- Methods of voting were clarified in the legislation to include in person voting, vote by proxy, vote by absentee ballot and vote by electronic ballot.
- Criminal penalties for violations of the legislation by members of the board were removed, as CAI believes this would have an extreme negative impact on the ability to recruit for these volunteer positions.
- Other amendments were accepted that clean up the language in the legislation and make it consistent with current law.
It is important to note that CAI did not get all of the changes we sought to this legislation. The legislative process is such that it is not reasonable to expect that all of the changes sought by CAI were going to be achieved. However, Rep. Brown has made significant changes to the original legislation introduced in 2021, including adding provisions sought by CAI to codify pandemic practices such as electronic meeting notices and virtual meetings. The LAC is grateful to have Representative Brown’s support as it relates to alleviating CAI’s concerns about the Bill. CAI will report more fully on this legislation should the Bill ultimately be passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor.