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Friday, June 3, 2022

PAC Issues Binding Opinion on Remote Meeting Agendas

The Public Access Counselor of the Attorney General's Office (PAC) just issued a binding opinion finding a public body in violation of the OMA for failing to include language on a meeting agenda informing members of the public how they could remotely attend a meeting of the public body that was held virtually. PAC Op. 22-007.

A village board of trustees posted an agenda of a regular meeting with language indicating that the board members would be attending the meeting virtually. A member of the public filed a request for review with the PAC office alleging that the board violated the OMA by not informing members of the public how they could attend the virtual meeting. The village responded that the meeting was broadcast on YouTube where members of the public could view it and that the village had publicized the meeting on its Facebook page.

The PAC determined that the village board violated the remote meeting procedures of section 7(e) of the OMA because it failed to include a web-based link or other information describing how members of the public could attend the virtual meeting. The PAC read various provisions of Section 7(e) together to make the determination that specific language (i.e., a web-based link, telephone number, or other access information) must be expressly stated on the agenda and that agenda must then be posted on the public body's website.

Public bodies that are meeting remotely should ensure that they include language on the agenda informing the public how they can attend the remote meeting, either in the form of a web-based link, telephone number, or other means of access, and also make sure the agenda is posted on its website. Although the OMA only requires public bodies to post agendas on their websites if a full-time employee of the public body maintains the website, the PAC interpreted section 7(e) more broadly to require public bodies to post agendas of remote meetings on their websites regardless of how their website is maintained.


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