If you tuned in to the Birmingham City Commission meeting shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday, October 12, expecting to watch a lengthy meeting, and discovered a black screen, you were not alone.
Before calling roll and commencing the meeting, mayor Pierre Boutros and fellow commissioners cancelled the meeting following a Michigan Supreme Court ruling late Monday afternoon which rendered moot all of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive orders – including permitting virtual meetings as an exception to the Open Meetings Act. Whitmer's orders had allowed local governments to conduct meetings and business through Zoom or other video conferences.
The planning board meeting on Wednesday, October 14, was also cancelled.
The Michigan House and Senate passed bills, Senate Bill 1108, 36-1, which the House passed as well, 85-16, to allow virtual meetings until December 31, 2021. The bill clears up the questions of whether local governments violated the Open Meetings Act after April 30, since the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated Whitmer’s executive orders after that date.
Requirements for local meetings held virtually include notice at least 18 hours prior; ensuring two-way communication for members to hear each other, posting agenda updates online and establishing how the public can view meetings.
Michigan Mutual League officials stated they support the legislation.
The governor is expected to sign the bills.