Special Alert
Changes to Open Meetings Act allow for expanded remote sessions
Legislation gaining final approval in the Legislature today makes important changes to the Open Meetings Act to allow county boards, under any circumstance, to continue to conduct virtual sessions through the end of the year.

Senate Bill 1108 also allows for retroactive authorization for virtual sessions dating back to March 18, 2020, to ensure the validity of board actions taken during the pandemic. This blanket authorization expires on Jan. 1, 2021, but the bill will still allow for virtual participation in meetings in such circumstances as a commissioner’s medical condition and when the county or the state is operating in a state of emergency.

The bill cleared the Senate and House today by bipartisan majorities. (MAC thanks members who participated in our advocacy campaign to the House this week for this result. Your voices make a difference in Lansing.) It now goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for her expected signature.

The legislation will allow county boards to meet electronically, in whole or in part, as follows:

  • March 18, 2020-Jan. 1, 2021, for “any circumstance, including but not limited to,” military leave, state or local emergency declaration, or for a medical condition
  • Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 31, 2021, for “only those circumstances requiring accommodation of members absent due to military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency”
  • After Dec 31, 2021, only for reason of military duty

If a member of the public body is participating remotely due to military duty or a medical condition, the accommodation only applies to that individual and the other members must by physically present at the meeting.

Each member of the public body that is meeting remotely must announce the county, city, township or village and state, from which the member is attending remotely, and it must be included in the meeting minutes.

Quick passage of this legislation was a top priority for MAC in the wake of the litigation against the 1945 law that the governor had used for her Executive Orders during the pandemic.