Waived Rules Allow Remote Government Meetings During Coronavirus Emergency - Texas Scorecard

If you were considering trekking out to your local city council meeting, that may no longer be necessary—at least for a while.

After declaring a state of emergency on Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott approved a request to waive certain parts of the state’s Open Meetings Act, allowing governmental bodies to meet telephonically or via videoconference during the coronavirus disaster.

The request was made by the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who says they wanted to waive those laws “to advance the public health goal of limiting face-to-face meetings (also called “social distancing”) to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Additionally, Paxton’s office noted that governmental bodies who wish to meet remotely must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Provide online written notice containing a public toll-free dial-in number or a free-of-charge videoconference link, as well as an electronic copy of any agenda packet, before conducting telephonic or videoconference meetings; 
  • Provide the public with access and a means to participate in those meetings, preferably through two-way audio or video connections; and 
  • Provide the public with access to a recording of those meetings.  

A complete list of the open meeting provisions that have been temporarily suspended can be found here.