When Must Municipalities Start to Conduct In-Person Meetings?
Act 15 was approved by Governor Wolf on April 20, 2020. Act 15 allowed municipalities to conduct meetings and other business through the use of authorized telecommunications devices until the expiration or termination of the Covid-19 disaster emergency.
“Covid-19 Disaster Emergency” is defined as: The duration of the proclamation of disaster emergency issued by the Governor on March 6, 2020 … and any renewal of the state of disaster emergency.
“Authorized telecommunications device” is defined as: Any device which permits, at a minimum, audio communication between individuals.
As a result of this Act, many municipalities began holding meetings by conference call and on-line platforms such as Zoom and Skype. Now that almost all Pennsylvania Counties are moving to the Green Phase, municipalities are wondering when they must resume in-person meetings.
The Governor’s Disaster Emergency Declaration was set to expire on June 4th but was renewed by the Governor on June 3rd for another 90 days. The new expiration date for the disaster emergency is September 2nd. So, municipalities can continue to use authorized telecommunications devices to conduct meetings until September 2nd, unless the Governor terminates the disaster emergency sooner.
However, termination of the Disaster Emergency is currently the subject of litigation before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Legislature passed a resolution in both houses to terminate the disaster emergency. Governor Wolf says that the resolution is not effective unless he signs it, which he did not. The Legislature does not have enough votes to override his veto. The Legislature argues that the resolution does not have to be signed by the Governor in order for it to become effective. The Supreme Court could rule on this issue before the end of the week.
Our office will provide updated information on the Supreme Court case when it becomes available.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.