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Is My Township Required to Have an Open Meetings Act (“OMA”) Policy Even If We Do Not Meet Electronically?

The OMA requires public bodies (including township boards) to establish certain procedures to accommodate the electronic attendance of a member(s) of the public body due to military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency. These procedures set forth how a township will accommodate the electronic attendance, how the absent member(s) will participate in the meeting electronically, and the method of providing notice to the public about the electronic attendance of the member(s) and how they may contact the member(s). See MCL 15.263(2).

Your township may not intend now or in the future to utilize electronic meetings, but the electronic attendance of board members must be accommodated for the above-stated qualifying reasons. Id.; MCL 15.263a(1). A township board cannot deny an individual member the ability to attend for a qualifying reason. And even though the medical and state of emergency reasons are in effect through the end of 2021, accommodations for military duty are permanent. Further, while the OMA does not explicitly require a written OMA policy, it is the only realistic way to ensure all required procedures are established and followed. A written policy may also set forth additional OMA requirements to ensure full compliance with the Act.

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