Legal expert advises on OMA, FOIA concerns during crisis
Even with emergency Executive Orders modifying the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act, counties still must have a mechanism to acknowledge receipt of FOIA requests and guarantee members of the public can hear and participate in county board sessions, a legal expert on public transparency matters told a MAC Virtual Legislative Conference workshop on Wednesday.
Matt Nordfjord, of the firm of Cohl, Stoker & Toskey, provided an analysis of do’s and don’ts for counties under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s EOs on the two transparency requirements, then fielded questions from an audience of nearly 50.
Other points Nordjford made:
- The EO on FOIA is “not a pause button on everything.” Counties still must comply with FOIA requests that can be handled electronically, for example.
- While boards need to allow public comment in their virtual sessions, they can operate under the same rules they have for physical sessions, including limits on time and cutting people off who act to disrupt the meeting.
- Board members need to be careful not to use private text messaging between each other during public meetings to deliberate on public matters.
The session on transparency laws was the fifth event in the Virtual Conference. Complete details, including registration for upcoming events, are found
at the conference page