107th Nebraska Legislature, First Session – Legislature Passes LB 83: Amendments to Open Meetings Act
The First Session of the 107th Nebraska Legislature convened January 6, 2021. Bill introduction concluded January 20, 2021. The session is scheduled to conclude on June 10, 2021. As of Tuesday, April 20, 2021, there are 28 days left in the session.
An updated chart of all First Session bills related to related to economic development, energy and renewable energy, government and municipal law, healthcare, liquor, real estate and financial transactions, taxation, and telecommunications is available here.
In our first update, available here, we addressed 21 bills from days one through five of bill introduction. In our second update, available here, we identified 20 additional bills of interest. Below is an update on a bill warranting particular attention.
LB 83 (Flood) LB 83 amends the Nebraska Open Meetings Act by authorizing and expanding the use of “virtual conferencing” during meetings of public bodies, including during declared emergencies. The bill defines “virtual conferencing” as telephone or electronic communications with interaction among the participants. On April 15, 2021, the Legislature passed the bill. On April 21, 2021, Governor Ricketts approved the bill with an emergency clause. Accordingly, the bill took effect immediately upon approval.
First, the bill authorizes public bodies to conduct up to one-half of their meetings annually by virtual conferencing. Public bodies may conduct all meetings by virtual conferencing in jurisdictions in which the Governor or “principal executive officer” of a local government declares an emergency. “Principal executive officer” means the mayor in a city of any class or elected chairperson of the governing body of a village or county.
To facilitate the public’s right to participate in meetings conducted by virtual conferencing, the bill imposes the following requirements:
A public body must provide “reasonable advance notice,” including notice to the public and news media and access to a dial-in number or a link to the virtual conference;
A public body must provide links to an electronic copy of the agenda and all documents the body will consider at the meeting; and
A public body must provide at least one designated physical site for public participation. Each site must have at least one member or designee of the body present and at least one copy of all documents the body will consider at the meeting.
The bill ratifies actions by public bodies between March 17, 2020 and April 30, 2021. During this period, the Governor waived Open Meetings Act requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.
All bills are on the Legislature’s website at nebraskalegislature.gov/bills. Please contact us if you have any questions about these bills or any others the Nebraska Legislature is currently considering. Thank you.