Changes to the process for government meetings during certain emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, are now law.
Sponsored by Rep. Erin Koegel (DFL-Spring Lake Park) and Sen. John Jasinski (R-Faribault), a new law temporarily removes a statutory limit to allow a member of a public body to participate remotely more than three times in the first six months of 2021.
Where local units of government are holding in-person meetings, concern was raised by participants who may be at a greater risk of serious complications if they or a family member contact COVID-19. A medical exemption allowing remote participation is permitted under state law; however, it has a three-meeting cap per year.
The new law also updates provisions of the Open Meeting Law to reflect modern technology used by public bodies for remote meetings and ensure the public can comment remotely during a public comment period if in-person attendance is not feasible due to a health pandemic or emergency.
Most of the provisions are effective on Aug. 1, 2021. The temporary removal of the remote participation cap is effective retroactively for meetings occurring on or after Jan. 1, 2021.