State Senate unanimously approves renewing Open Meeting Act exemptions

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Oklahoma Senate

The Oklahoma State Senate, pictured on March 28, 2018. (KFOR/Bill Miston)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate unanimously approved a bill that renews Open Meeting Act exemptions, which were enacted last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 1031 on Wednesday.

The bill, written by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, reinstates the same exemptions to the Open Meeting Act that were made into law last year, but with some minor changes.

“The threat from COVID-19 is real and all of us are trying to take the appropriate steps to protect the health and safety of our family, friends and neighbors. That includes public bodies, which need to continue meeting during the ongoing pandemic but in a safe manner,” Treat said. “This bill provides public bodies the flexibility to hold virtual public meetings until the pandemic is behind us. I am thankful for the quick action and support of the Oklahoma Senate on this measure and am encouraged that our colleagues in the House have plans to do the same.”

Changes from the 2020 exemptions include the following:

  • Requires materials provided to members of the public body during a virtual meeting to immediately be made available to the public on the public body’s web site;
  • Requires public bodies to conduct meetings in the manner described on the public notice of the meeting;
  • Requires any necessary passcodes to access videoconferencing to be included in the public notice of a meeting; and
  • Makes the exemptions effective until Feb. 15, 2022, or until 30 days after the expiration or termination of the state of emergency declared by the governor to respond to the threat of COVID-19, whichever date first occurs.

The bill now moves to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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