On June 18th, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-129, which extends a previous Executive Order allowing public bodies to conduct public meetings remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Order 2020-129 expires on July 31, 2020.
“As we continue our efforts to flatten the curve and prevent a second wave of COVID-19, it’s important for public bodies to be able to continue holding meetings and the public to participate in those meetings,” Governor Whitmer said. “By allowing for remote meetings, public bodies and residents can continue practicing safe social distancing while also ensuring meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.”
Under Executive Order 2020-129, public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils and nonprofit boards, can use telephone- or video-conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business during the COVID-19 public health crisis, so long as they follow certain procedures to ensure meaningful access and participation by members of the public body and the general public.
Public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting remotely:
- Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other when speaking.
- Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting.
- Post a public meeting notice on their website.
- Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.
- Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period.
The order also temporarily authorizes public bodies, departments and agencies to use technology to enable remote participation in public comment and hearings, and temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.