COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020

On March 17, 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed into law the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020. Provisions in the law make changes to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act. The changes are summarized below:

Section 501 waives certain meeting requirements for Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and authorizes remote meetings during a public health emergency.

Section 502 provides that the requirements for public bodies to meet are waived during the emergency, unless the Mayor deems meeting as “necessary and appropriate.”

Section 503 allows the District of Columbia government to delay processing FOIA requests during the time period there is a declaration of and emergency or if the agency is closed due to COVID-19.

Section 504 provides that for the period of declared emergency, real-time access to a meeting is not required for it to be considered open. A meeting is open if a public body “takes steps reasonably calculated to allow the public to view or hear the meeting while the meeting is taking place, or if doing so is not technologically feasible, as soon as reasonably practicable thereafter.” Notice requirements are relaxed. Posting meeting notices online is sufficient to meet the Open Meetings Act requirements.

Note: The attached document contains only the provisions related to open government. Please click on the link above to view the Emergency Act in its entirety.

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