Oklahoma Senate Leader Files Bill To Reinstate Virtual Meetings

Jan 22, 2021

Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat

The top-ranking member of the Oklahoma Senate has filed legislation that would allow public bodies to resume virtual meetings.

President Pro Tem Greg Treat’s Senate Bill 1031 would reinstate provisions of the Open Meeting Act that expired in November, leaving them in place until the governor’s pandemic emergency declaration expires.

Treat (R-Oklahoma City) said he’d like the legislature to fast-track the bill.

"At the time, in-person gatherings were limited to very few people but we knew public bodies had to meet to conduct business. That’s why the legislature worked together to implement temporary exemptions to the Open Meeting laws to allow public bodies to meet virtually. The need remains for public bodies to continue to be able to meet virtually," Treat said in a news release announcing the legislation.

The City of Tulsa has held as few public meetings as possible since the virtual meetings provision expired. Some public bodies have experimented with having a quorum in a physical location and other members participating via videoconferencing.

Treat also filed Senate Bill 1032, which would let public bodies switch to virtual meetings when the governor issues an emergency declaration, as well as require all public meetings at a physical location to include a livestream for people to watch unless technical or logistical issues prevent it.