Under the Minnesota Open Meeting Law (the “OML”), a municipality’s elected officials and commission, committee, board, etc. members are only able to remotely participate in public meetings under certain circumstances. When elected officials and members of a governing body participate in a meeting through interactive television means (e.g., videoconferencing), the OML requires that the person’s physical location be open to the public. The OML was recently amended to allow military servicemembers at a military location to remotely participate in public meetings without making their physical location open to the public.
The OML was recently amended again to allow a remotely participating individual’s physical location to be closed to the public if “the member has been advised by a health care professional against being in a public place for personal or family medical reasons.” This exception to in-person participation can only be used during a state of emergency declared under Minn. Stat. § 12.31 (National Security or Peacetime Emergency; Declaration) and for a period of 60 days thereafter.
It’s important to note that this new exception doesn’t modify the circumstances under which remote participation is allowed.This new exception only affects the statutory requirement that an individual’s physical location be open to the public when the individual is remotely participating in a public meeting through interactive television means. Elected officials and members of a governing body must still be able to see and hear all discussion and testimony occurring at a public meeting and be seen and heard by all other elected officials or members of the governing body, and, members of public. Notice of the body’s regular meeting location and the remote location of any remote elected official or member must still be provided in compliance with Minn. Stat. § 13D.04.
It’s also important to note that this new exception doesn’t modify any other sections of the OML. Specifically, Minn. Stat. § 13D.021, which allows for remote public meetings to be conducted under emergency conditions, is not affected in any way. If a municipality has already followed the process set forth in § 13D.021, there is no need for an individual to have “been advised by a health care professional against being in a public place for personal or family medical reasons” to remotely participate in a public meeting.
If you have any questions about the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, please speak with your attorney or a Bradley Law, LLC attorney to understand how the OML applies to you.
Bradley Werner, LLC is located in Woodbury, MN and serves clients in and around Newport, Lake Elmo, South Saint Paul, Afton, Saint Paul Park, Cottage Grove, Lakeland, Inver Grove Heights, Saint Paul, Willernie, Dakota County, Ramsey County and Washington County.
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