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Michigan Governor Signs Open Meetings Act Amendment Allowing Electronic Public Meetings

October 19, 2020

This has been updated from its original version published on October 15th to reflect that the Governor signed Senate Bill 1108 and it took immediate effect on Friday, October 16th.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Senate Bill 1108 on Friday, October 16, 2020, which amends the Open Meetings Act (the "OMA") with immediate effect.

Senate Bill 1108 (now Public Act 228 of 2020) amends the OMA to allow public bodies to conduct electronic "virtual" meetings with remote participation for any reason through the end of 2020, and in 2021 under specific circumstances. Importantly, the amendments apply retroactively to March 18, 2020—which means that actions taken at electronic meetings held on or after March 18 will be considered valid if those meetings complied with the general requirements for electronic meetings prescribed by the act.

From March 18, 2020, through December 31, 2020, public bodies may conduct electronic meetings virtually for any reason. After December 31, 2020, public bodies may only meet remotely under certain statutorily prescribed circumstances. From January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, public bodies may only meet remotely under the following circumstances requiring accommodation of absent members due to:

With respect to a "statewide or local state of emergency," the amendments provide that an electronic meeting may only be held (i) to permit the electronic attendance of a member of the public body who resides in the affected area, and (ii) to permit the electronic meeting of a public body that usually holds its meetings in the affected area. A county or municipality may declare a local state of emergency under the Emergency Management Act, Public Act 390 of 1976, if certain statutory requirements are met.

After December 31, 2021, only members of public bodies who are absent due to military duty may participate remotely in public meetings.

Electronic Meeting Requirements

The amendments incorporate many of the requirements for electronic meetings and remote participation that were in the Governor's nullified executive orders and also impose new requirements, which apply to electronic meetings held after the effective date of the amendments.

If you have any questions about the Michigan Open Meetings Act, please contact your Miller Canfield attorney or any of the authors listed on this e-alert.