AG Nessel issues opinion addressing open meeting requirements, attendance accommodations

AG Dana Nessel
Posted at 8:41 AM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 09:02:41-05

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has released an opinion addressing open meeting requirements and attendance accommodations.

Last month, two Michigan senators requested an opinion on how Michigan’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) intersects with federal law when a person with a disability either serves on a body subject to the OMA or desires to fully participate in the meetings of such a body and requests an accommodation for their disability.

In their request, Senator Jeff Irwin and Senator Wayne Schmidt said it was a matter of great urgency because the allowance of local governments, as well as their boards and commissions, to meet virtually in response to the COVID-19 pandemic ended on January 1, 2022.

“It is my opinion, therefore, that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act require state and local boards and commissions to provide reasonable accommodations, which could include an option to participate virtually, to qualified individuals with a disability who request an accommodation in order to fully participate as a board or commission member or as a member of the general public in meetings that are required by the Open Meetings Act to be held in a place available to the general public,” the opinion’s conclusion states.

Nessel says the opinion analyzes both the OMA and federal laws that govern access to public meetings.

“While this opinion will only be binding for state boards, it is my hope that local boards will use this guidance and ensure fair access to public meetings for those who require appropriate accommodations as we continue to navigate our way through the pandemic,” Nessel said. “Government participation should include everyone in our state who wants to serve, not just those who are fortunate enough not to have disabilities.”

You can readNessel’s full opinion on the Department of Attorney General's website.

Nessel discussed her opinion in a virtual press call at 9 a.m.