Michigan allows public bodies to meet electronically

Posted at 2:38 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 14:38:27-04

LANSING, Mich. — The state of Michigan is temporarily letting public bodies conduct their meetings electronically, while still "facilitating public participation" during the coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Wednesday to change the state's Open Meetings Act, according to the governor's office.

The change will run until April 15 at 11:59 p.m.

The state recognizes that despite the coronavirus, public bodies "still have an obligation to conduct business as usual,” Whitmer said.

“During this crisis, we must ensure that public officials can do their job to meet the needs of residents, while also ensuring that meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public,” Whitmer said.

The action applies to public bodies that are subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils and nonprofit boards.

The public bodies can use telephone or video conferencing to meet and conduct business.

However, the state says public bodies "must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting electronically":

  • Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other
  • 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 governor's executive order also temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.