Can an internet broadcast count as an “open meeting”?

In today’s world, going to work can include sitting in a café on the other side of town, or joining a meeting while on the other side of the world. What was once a luxury has become common in more industries and offices.

While you may be able to do some of your work remotely, there are certain aspects of the job that require your physical presence. When it comes to the Texas Open Meetings Act, there are rules about who needs to be there.

Here’s what you need to know about having a virtual presence at an open meeting.

There must be a physical location

Without the participation of the people, a government meeting is more about what politicians want, which can leave out steps that would be useful for the people. The goal of the Open Meetings Act is for members of the community to be able to participate in the decisions their government makes.

For a meeting to fulfill the requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act, there must be a physical location where members of the community can gather and participate. Although it is common for people to have computers and internet connections to join a virtual meeting, a meeting that is exclusively online is not enough.

Not everyone has to be there

With increasingly busy schedules, it can be challenging to get everyone in one physical location at the same time. Politicians and citizens alike juggle work, family and other responsibilities.

A meeting must have a physical location, and some members of the governing body must be present, but not everyone needs to be in the room. People from the governing body may join the meeting through teleconferencing.

Keep in mind that, if a connection gets interrupted, that person is absent for as long as the outage persists. If that person’s presence is needed to fulfill the quorum requirement, the meeting cannot continue until the group can reestablish a connection.