What is the status of the suspended Open Meetings Act
On Sunday (December 6), the governor’s office extended the
Open Meetings Act suspensions for another 30 days. Previously, on March 16,
the governor granted the office of the attorney general’s request for
suspension of certain open meeting statutes.
The temporary suspension allows, among other things, for telephonic or
videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the
public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups
of people. The guidance associated
with the suspension provides that: “These suspensions are in effect until
terminated by the office of the governor, or until the March 13, 2020,
disaster declaration is lifted or expires.” The March 13 declaration has been
extended for successive 30-day periods, including Sunday’s extension. That means the relevant open
meetings laws remain suspended for at least another 30 days (or until
We still can’t be certain, but it is highly likely that the
governor will continue to repeatedly extend his declarations. We’ve heard
from his staff that they have no immediate plans to rescind the suspensions,
which are sensible and seem to be working well, but that can’t be guaranteed.
What’s the latest news on how Coronavirus might affect the
2021 Texas Legislative Session?
According to reporting by The Texas Tribune, the Senate and
House are considering a number of protocols before witnesses would be allowed
to testify at committee hearings, the most significant of which would be a
requirement that witnesses must pass a Coronavirus test and register at least
three days in advance of the hearing.
If there’s any bright side to such requirements, it’s that both
chambers of the Legislature routinely in the past suspended the rules to hold
hearings on sometimes a few minutes’ notice. Unless the rule
requiring testing is also subject to suspension, the new requirements would
seem to slow down the process and allow more time for deliberation by
stakeholders and community advocates.
Is there news on the need for additional federal legislation
relating to Coronavirus?
Yes, the National League of Cities has reported the results of a new survey on the harmful
effects of Coronavirus on the nation’s cities. Of most significance,
over 70 percent of responding cities reported that their fiscal conditions
are negatively impacted by Coronavirus.
How can we have an impact on the legislative issues that
affect our community?
With the 2021 legislative session starting on January 12, it’s
important to start engaging state lawmakers and citizens in tackling the
challenges that directly impact your community. Join the League’s
legislative team for our 2021 Legislative Series (four webinars and a
workshop) where we’ll discuss the key city issues and our work ahead. Learn more and register.
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.