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Local & Regional

Virtual Meetings On Fast Track For Reapproval

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Asim Saleem | CC BY-SA 3.0
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Public bodies in Oklahoma could have the ability to meet virtually again sometime next week.

The state Senate brough Senate Bill 1031 directly to the floor and passed it on a 45–0 vote Wednesday to reinstate that provision, sending the measure to the House for consideration.

The ability to meet virtually expired in November. The legislation sets a new expiration date of Feb. 15, 2022, or no more than 30 days after the governor’s COVID-19 emergency declaration ends, whichever is first.

"This was a request from the minority leader that I looked favorably upon. On line 12, 'or until 30 days after,' that gives entities that may need to take advantage of that a 30-day period to ramp down or ramp up, if you will," Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said on the floor.

The bill also requires public bodies to meet in the way described in their posted meeting notice.

"[That] fixes the loophole where some entities were posting they were going to meet virtually then all meeting in one place and no one was there to witness that," Treat said.

The bill also requires passcodes to be included in meeting notices and public access to documents given to documents handed out for virtual meetings.

Several public bodies have canceled meetings in the past few months because they were not able to meet virtually as coronavirus transmission rose to record levels.

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