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Monday, June 15, 2020

Governor Signs OMA Remote Meeting Legislation

Since the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-07 in March (which has been extended from time to time), Illinois public bodies have been able to meet "remotely" due to the COVID-19 pandemic without having a physical quorum of the body present at the meeting place. The Governor's EO suspended the in-person quorum requirement of the OMA and also modified the reasons for which a member can attend a meeting remotely. As we reported previously, the Governor's most recent extension of his EO stated that this authorization would terminate when the General Assembly enacted legislation to authorize remote meetings.

On Friday, June 12, 2020, the Governor signed P.A. 100-0640 (SB 2135) into law. This new law amends the OMA to expressly authorize public bodies to meet remotely without the otherwise required quorum present at the meeting place. The law became effective immediately. We provided a detailed discussion of SB 2135 here.

Public bodies should be aware of a few new statutory requirements that may require them to change their remote meeting procedures and notices moving forward. These requirements, and a summary of the key provisions of the new law, are summarized below:

1.  The remote meeting authorization is effective only when the Governor has issued a disaster declaration that covers all or part of the jurisdiction of the public body.

2.  The head of the public body must make a determination that an in-person meeting is not practical or prudent because of a disaster. That determination could be identified on the agenda or stated at the meeting.

3.  All members need to be verified at the meeting and must be able to hear one another and all discussion at the meeting.

4.  Members of the public must be able to contemporaneously hear all discussion and votes, either by being physically present at the meeting place or through a phone or web-based link at open meetings. 

5.  At least one member of the public body or the chief administrative officer or the chief legal officer must be physically present at the meeting place unless it isn't feasible because of the disaster.

6.  All votes must be by roll call.

7.  Notice must be provided in accordance with the OMA (i.e., 48 hours in advance except in a bona fide emergency). The notice must be given to the members of the public body, posted on the public body's website, and provided to any news media that has requested notice.

8.  Meetings must be recorded (including open sessions).


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