Just as many of you are, Aim is concerned with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the effect it has on our communities. City and town government plays a role in maintaining public health, balancing the need to give citizens accurate information without creating unnecessary panic. However, we know you need to be proactive. You are also an employer who needs to understand all obligations, risks, policies, etc., relative to human resources and COVID-19.
Throughout the Covid pandemic, Governor Holcomb has extended the public health emergency in the allowable 30 day increments. On April 29, 2021, the Governor signed Executive Order 21-11, the fourteenth renewal of the public health emergency extending the emergency until May 31, 2021. Near the start of the public health emergency, Executive Order 20-09 gave local units of government the authority to hold public meetings and hearings virtually, where members of the governing body and the public could participate fully via electronic communications.
With the recent passage of HEA 1437, however, the new statutory provision for virtual meetings when under emergency order have kicked in. The new provision is in IC 5-14-1.5-3.7, which was effective upon passage (April 20, 2021). If your local government is currently holding virtual meetings, those meetings will now need to be in compliance with Section 3.7. The biggest change is that certain notations will now need to be made in the meeting memorandum and all votes must be taken by roll call.
Whenever the public health emergency expires, HEA 1437, provides the authority for governing bodies to adopt a virtual meeting policy under IC 5-14-1.5-3.5. Conducting meetings under Section 3.5, however, will be more limited than what is allowed under Section 3.7 during an emergency. Aim is currently working on guidance documents for what you need to know in adopting a virtual meeting policy for non-emergency times and the documentation you will want to keep in order to show meetings were in compliance with the Open Door Law. Those guiding documents from Aim will be ready shortly. In addition, IMLA will have a workshop specifically on this topic at the virtual Municipal Law Conference June 24-25.
Dr. Fauci: ‘Critical role’ of local government in taming pandemic
Dr. Anthony Fauci, member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force and one of the world’s leading experts on infectious diseases, participated in a virtual interview with the Georgia Municipal Association. Dr. Fauci spoke about the importance of municipalities in response to the pandemic, vaccine distribution, and other vital information.