CHEYENNE – In light of the current public health concerns regarding COVID-19 and to ensure continued government transparency the Wyoming Press Association has prepared the following advisory regarding the Wyoming Open Meetings Act.
Governmental bodies can meet their open meetings obligations, while practicing social distancing to help protect public health, by conducting meetings via telephone or video conferencing if the public is given the same opportunity to attend.
Should a person wish to attend a meeting that is being conducted via Zoom, Skype or other electronic means, but does not have a computer, then the governmental entity must make arrangements so they can observe the meeting. It may be that such arrangement be audio only with a toll-free, dial-in number.
According to the open meetings law, Wyoming Statute 16-3-403 (d), “no meeting shall be conducted by electronic means or any other form of communication that does not permit the public to hear, read or otherwise discern meeting discussion contemporaneously.”
If a meeting is postponed or canceled, and then rescheduled outside of a regularly scheduled meeting date, this falls under the special meeting rule, Wyoming Statute 16-4-404 (b), and a minimum eight-hour notice must be provided to media. The notice must include the place, time and date, and must state what subjects will be discussed.
Additionally, if a governing body faces an emergency that requires immediate action, they may hold a meeting where a temporary decision is made. Reasonable effort to offer public notice shall be made and they must reconvene within 48 hours to revisit the decision, according to W.S. 16-4-404 (d).
State and local officials who have questions about open-meeting requirements should submit them to the Office of the Attorney General via their website at http://attorneygeneral.wyo.gov/contact-us or by calling (307) 777-7841.