In March 2020, shortly after issuing his first proclamation of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Pritzker issued an executive order relaxing the Illinois Open Meetings Act’s (OMA) requirements for remote participation in meetings. The executive order waived the requirement that a quorum of the public body be physically present at the meeting location, and permitted remote participation by members of the body for any reason (instead of the usual limitations in the OMA that permit remote participation only due to illness, employment purposes, or an emergency). We opined that the Governor had the clear authority to suspend the OMA in this fashion. The executive order was upheld by the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor, and thousands of public bodies around the state held public meetings virtually to carry out important government functions. Nevertheless, questions persisted, particularly among bond counsel, about the Governor’s authority to temporarily suspend the physical presence requirement during an emergency.

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