Gov. Lee extends order allowing governing bodies to meet electronically through June 30

Gov. Bill Lee extended provisions in Executive Order No. 16 allowing members of governing bodies to meet electronically through June 30. The order previously was scheduled to expire on May 18.

The new order makes no changes in the earlier provisions other than extending the date.

Under Executive Order No. 16, a governing body subject to the Open Meetings Act in Tennessee may “meet and conduct its essential business by electronic means, rather than being required to gather a quorum of members physically present at the same location, if the governing body determines that meeting electronically is necessary to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Tennesseans in light of the COVID-19 outbreak…”

If a governing body decides to meet electronically, it must make the meeting “open and accessible to public attendance by electronic means.”

The order says the governing body “must make reasonable efforts to ensure that the public access to the meeting via electronic means is live access, but if the governing body cannot provide such live public access despite reasonable efforts, the governing body must make a clear audio or video recording of the meeting available to the public as soon as practicable following the meetings, and in no event more than two business days after the meeting.”

The order does not relieve the governing body of providing meeting notice or of voting requirements under the law, and it urges governing bodies to provide clear notice of the “meeting agenda and how the public can access the meeting electronically at a time and location reasonably accessible to all members of the public.”

The order does not make provisions for a governing body who continues to meet physically in person. In that situation, the Open Meetings Act requirements would still apply.

Tennessee Coalition for Open Government is conducting a survey of how governing bodies have conducted meetings during the COVID-19 crisis. If you have attended, participated, watched or listened to a governing body meeting, we need your feedback. You can take the survey here. The data you provide may be used for policy analysis.

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