Across the country, individuals have been required or encouraged to limit face-to-face meetings and practice “social distancing” to slow the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In light of these guidelines, OSBA has received numerous questions regarding the applicability of Ohio’s Open Meetings Act (OMA) during the pandemic. Because these state directives are changing on a day-to-day basis, boards should consult with legal counsel before making decisions about their meetings.
This week is Sunshine Week, which is a national initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government.
State lawmakers have finalized an expedited process to hear complaints from citizens alleging they were wrongfully denied access to public records. The bill, Senate Bill (SB) 321, received unanimous votes in the Ohio House and Senate and is awaiting signature by the Governor.
On Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court held in the case White v. King that Ohio’s Open Meetings Act prohibits any private prearranged discussion of public business by a majority of the members of a public body regardless of whether the discussion occurs face to face, telephonically, by video conference, or electronically by email, text, tweet or other form of communication.