Senate Approves Pandemic Fix and Technological Updates to Open Meeting Law

April 19, 2021

The bill would allow elected officials to continue attending in-person meetings from home for medical reasons, and an amendment would update the technology language in the Open Meeting Law.

The Senate on April 12 amended and unanimously passed a League-supported bill, HF 820 (Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault), which would provide a pandemic fix to the Open Meeting Law.

Because the bill is being sent back to the House with changes, the House would need to concur with the bill before it is sent to Gov. Tim Walz to enact into law. It is anticipated that the House will do so.

Need for the bill

Sen. Jasinski explained that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more flexibility is needed for the medical exception in the Open Meeting Law.

The Legislature passed the medical exception to the Open Meeting Law during the last session, allowing elected officials to attend in-person meetings remotely for medical reasons, but the exception can be used only three times per calendar year. Because the pandemic has lasted longer than anticipated, some need to use the exception more than three times.

Adopted amendment

The Senate adopted SF 1544 into the bill, which makes needed updates to the technology language in the Open Meeting Law.

For more information about the technology update bill, read a previous article

Local government support of the bill

In addition to the League, this bill is supported by the Minnesota School Boards Association, Minnesota Association of Townships, and Association of Minnesota Counties.

Read the joint letter of support (pdf)

For more background information about this bill, read a previous article

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