At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, on March 16, 2020, at the Attorney General’s request, Governor Greg Abbott utilized Section 418.016 of the Government Code to suspend certain requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) in light of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.
The Governor suspended multiple provisions of TOMA in order to allow videoconference or telephonic meetings, including provisions that required a quorum of the governing body to be physically present at the specified location of the meeting and provisions that might be interpreted to require face-to-face interaction between members of the public and public officials. A list of the suspended provisions is available here, and a copy of the Governor’s suspension letter can be found here.
On June 30, 2021, Governor Abbott’s office approved a request by the Office of the Attorney General to lift these suspensions of certain provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The suspensions will lift at 12:01 a.m. on September 1, 2021. Therefore, as of September 1, all provisions of the Open Meetings Act will be effective and all Texas governmental bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act must conduct their meetings in full compliance with the Open Meetings Act as written in statute.