Focus on New Laws: Interactive TV Requirements at Council Meetings

August 5, 2019

A new law makes it easier for city council members in the military to participate in public meetings via interactive television.

A change to the Open Meeting Law (Minnesota Statutes, section 13D.02) relaxes interactive television requirements for city councils and other public bodies. The new law, Chapter 33, was signed by Gov. Tim Walz on May 17 and was effective on Aug. 1.

A city councilmember can now attend council meetings by interactive television—such as Skype—without making their remote location open to the public, if the councilmember is:

  • In the military; and
  • At a required drill, deployed, or on active duty.

Participation via a nonpublic location is limited to three times in a calendar year.

Difficulties created by previous law

In the past, councilmembers that were serving in the military were able to attend public meetings via interactive television, but only if their location was open and accessible to the public.

However, public access was not always possible when the member of the military was in a secured location. This sometimes made it difficult for councils to reach a quorum, which is needed to take any official action.

Change to general record keeping for public meetings

Public meeting minutes must now include the names of any members appearing by interactive television. They must also include the reason for the appearance by interactive television.