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Meeting Remotely Under Open Meeting Law

Illustration shows board meeting where some members attend in person and some members attend via video conferenceDate: January 2022

Members often have questions regarding remote participation in meetings subject to the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, such as a county board of commissioners meeting.

There are two sections of the Minnesota Open Meeting Law that allow local government board members to be counted as part of the quorum and participate remotely in meetings. The first, Minnesota Statutes, Section 13D.02 can be used for any meeting that would be covered by the Open Meeting Law.

The second, Minnesota Statutes Section 13D.021 is limited to circumstances when an in-person meeting or a meeting conducted under Section 13D.02 is not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic or an emergency declared under Chapter 12.

Each statute has different requirements. Failure to comply with the requirements of the particular statute under which the board is meeting may mean that the remote board member is unable to be counted as part of the quorum nor participate in all proceedings.

Section 13D.02: Other Entity Meetings by Interactive Technology

Section 13D.02 allows a local government board member to be considered present at the meeting for purposes of determining a quorum and participating in all proceedings from a remote location via interactive technology when certain statutory conditions are met.

“Interactive technology” means a device, software program or other application that allows individuals in different physical locations to see and hear one another (Minn. Stat. § 13D.001, subd. 2).

The statutory conditions for meeting via interactive technology include all of the following:

  • All members of the body participating in the meeting, wherever their physical location, can hear and see one another and can hear and see all discussion and testimony presented at any location at which at least one member is present.
  • Members of the public present at the regular meeting location of the body can hear and see all discussion and testimony and all votes of all members of the body.
  • At least one member of the body is physically present at the regular meeting location.
  • All votes are conducted by roll call so each member’s vote on each issue can be identified and recorded.
  • Each location at which a member of the body is present is open and accessible to the public.

There are two exceptions to the requirement that the board member’s remote location be open and accessible to the public. The first applies to board members who are serving in the military and are at a required drill, deployed or on active duty.

The second exception is when a board member has been advised by a health care professional against being in a public place for personal or family medical reasons during a state of emergency declared under Minnesota Statutes, Section 12.31 or within 60 days of it ending.

These limited exceptions to the open and accessible requirement can be used by a board member no more than three times in a calendar year.

Entities must give notice of the regular meeting location and any locations at which board members will be participating via interactive technology, unless the remote location is closed to the public under the limited exceptions. The timing and method of providing the notice must be as described in Minnesota Statutes, Section 13D.04 (which describes notice provisions for regular, special and emergency meetings).

Generally for most regular and special meetings, this means that the notice must be posted on the principal bulletin board (or on the door of its usual meeting room if there is no principal bulletin board) and mailed or otherwise delivered to each person who has filed a written request for special meeting notices at least three days before the date of the meeting.1

To the extent practical, the government entity shall allow a person to monitor the meeting electronically from a remote location.

The minutes for a meeting conducted under Section 13D.02 must reflect the names of any members appearing by interactive technology and state the reason or reasons for the appearance by interactive technology.


See Open Meeting Law FAQs: Meeting Remotely for more clarification about meeting via interactive technology under the law.


Section 13D.021: Meetings During a Pandemic or Chapter 12 Emergency

Section 13D.021 permits meeting by either telephone or interactive technology when the presiding officer, chief legal counsel or chief administrative officer for the governing body determines that an in-person meeting or a meeting conducted under Section 13D.02 is not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic or an emergency declared under Chapter 12.

Whether an in-person meeting or a meeting conducted under Section 13D.02 is not practical or prudent because of the COVID-19 health pandemic may depend on the particular circumstances of the governing body. The determination may take local public health conditions into account, as well as state and federal guidance.

As a best practice, the reasoning for this determination should be placed on the record at the beginning of the meeting or done by resolution. The board could also place this reasoning in its meeting notice.

Governing boards do want to take caution that Section 13D.021 is not inadvertently being used to avoid the more stringent requirements of Section 13D.02. For example, the Minnesota Department of Administration has opined that when a quorum of board members was able to gather in person at the regular meeting location, this contradicted the prior determination that an in-person meeting or a meeting under Section 13D.02 was not practical or prudent.2

In addition to the determination that an in-person meeting under Section 13D.02 is not practical or prudent, all of the following conditions must also be met:

  • All members of the body participating in the meeting, wherever their physical location, can hear one another and can hear all discussion and testimony.
  • Members of the public present at the regular meeting location of the body can hear all discussion and testimony and all votes of the members of the body, unless attendance at the regular meeting location is not feasible due to the health pandemic or emergency declaration.
  • At least one member of the body, chief legal counsel or chief administrative officer is physically present at the regular meeting location, unless unfeasible due to the health pandemic or emergency declaration.
  • All votes are conducted by roll call, so each member’s vote on each issue can be identified and recorded.

To the extent practical, the government entity shall allow a person to monitor the meeting electronically from a remote location.

Notice must be provided of the regular meeting location, the fact that some board members may be participating by telephone or interactive technology and the ability for the public to monitor the meeting electronically. The timing and method of providing the notice must be as described in Minnesota Statutes, Section 13D.04, as described above.

When all required conditions are met, remotely attending board members will be considered present at the meeting for purposes of determining a quorum and participating in all proceedings from a remote location via telephone or interactive technology.

If attendance at the regular meeting location is not feasible due to the health pandemic or emergency declaration and the public body’s practice is to offer a public comment period at in-person meetings, members of the public shall be permitted to comment from a remote location during the public comment period of the meeting to the extent practical.

Further Information

Members continuing to hold meetings with remote participation are encouraged to review the conditions and requirements of the statutory section under which they are meeting.

The Minnesota Department of Administration, Data Practices Office, has a wealth of resources on its website. Staff are available to answer Open Meeting Law questions, as well as questions about the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.

MCIT has a variety of resources about the Open Meeting Law on its website and the risk management staff is available to provide general risk management information about this law. Members should consult with their own legal counsel regarding how the statutes apply to a specific situation.

1 Minn. Stat. § 13D.04, subd. 1 states that if a public body decides to hold a regular meeting at a time or place different than in its schedule of regular meetings, it shall give the same notice of the meeting as that is provided in this section for a special meeting.
2 See Minnesota Department of Administration Advisory Opinion 21-003.

The information contained in this document is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or coverage advice on any specific matter.