OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today, in coordination with the Oklahoma Press Association (OPA), announced the relaxed rules for open meetings created through Senate Bill 661 will expire Sunday.
Any permanent changes to the Open Meetings Act or the Open Records Act must be changed in statute and cannot be modified through an executive order by the governor.
Attorney General Hunter said beginning Sunday, boards and commissions need to begin meeting as they did before the Coronavirus pandemic.
“When this legislation was authored, no one could have predicted how long the pandemic would last,” Attorney General Hunter said. “More is now known about how we can safely meet and conduct business in accordance with proper social distancing and other safety protocols. How ever boards and commissions decide to meet, they need to do it under the Open Meetings Act pre-SB 661 beginning Sunday.”
The amendments to the Open Meetings Act through SB 661 allowed public bodies to meet virtually and transact public business while limiting or avoiding social contact and community spread consistent with governmental directions on how to mitigate the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We have seen innovative and creative ways for entities to conduct business recently, and we encourage public bodies to follow their lead,” said OPA Executive Vice President Mark Thomas. “We also encourage them to continue offering virtual attendance and livestreaming functions to increase transparency, especially when limiting the number of those in attendance. If members are still concerned or cannot find a way to meet safely, and their matters can be postponed to a future date, they are still welcome to cancel the meeting and reschedule it for a future date.”