Title 42. Public Officers and Employees
Chapter 1-a. Open Meetings Law
42:17.1 Exception for meetings during a gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency
A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Chapter to the contrary, a public body may conduct and its members may attend and participate in a meeting via electronic means provided:
(1) The governor has declared a state of emergency or disaster involving a geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body and the nature of the emergency or disaster would cause a meeting of the public body conducted pursuant to the other provisions of this Chapter to be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
(2) The presiding officer of the public body certifies on the notice of the meeting that the agenda of the meeting is limited to one or more of the following:
(a) Matters that are directly related to the public body’s response to the disaster or emergency and are critical to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
(b) Matters that if they are delayed will cause curtailment of vital public services or severe economic dislocation and hardship.
(c) Matters that are critical to continuation of the business of the public body and that are not able to be postponed to a meeting held in accordance with the other provisions of this Chapter due to a legal requirement or other deadline that cannot be postponed or delayed by the public body.
(d) Other matters that are critical or time-sensitive and that in the determination of the presiding officer should not be delayed; however, such matters shall not be considered at the meeting unless the members of the body present at the meeting approve the consideration of the matters by a two-thirds vote.
(3) The public body and its presiding officer comply with all of the requirements of this Section.
B. No later than twenty-four hours prior to a meeting conducted pursuant to the provisions of this Section, the public body shall provide for all of the following:
(1) The notice and agenda for the meeting, which shall be posted on the website of the public body, emailed to any member of the public or the news media who requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely distributed to every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes news within the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body.
(2) Detailed information regarding how members of the public may participate in the meeting and submit comments regarding matters on the agenda, which information shall be posted on the website of the public body, emailed to any member of the public or the news media who requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely distributed to every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes news within the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body.
C. For each meeting conducted pursuant to this Section:
(1) The public body shall provide a mechanism to receive public comment electronically both prior to and during the meeting.
(2) The public body shall properly identify and acknowledge all public comments during the meeting and shall maintain those comments in its record of the meeting.
(3) The presiding officer of the public body shall ensure that each person participating in the meeting is properly identified.
(4) The presiding officer shall ensure that all parts of the meeting, excluding any matter discussed in executive session, are clear and audible to all participants in the meeting including the public.
D. For the purposes of this Section, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
(1) “Meeting via electronic means” shall mean a meeting occurring via teleconference or video conference.
(2) “Teleconference” shall mean a method of communication which enables persons in different locations to participate in a meeting and to hear and otherwise communicate with each other.
(3) “Video conference” shall mean a method of communication which enables persons in different locations to participate in a meeting and to see, hear, and otherwise communicate with each other.
Added by Acts 2020, No. 302, § 2, eff. June 12, 2020. Amended by Acts 2020, 2nd Ex.Sess., No. 43, § 1, eff. Oct. 28, 2020.