Duluth City Council wants ability to hold remote meetings

The Duluth City Council is seeking a change in state law that would allow city boards and commissions as well as the council, to hold meetings and conduct business remotely or in a hybrid format.

Council members voted unanimously on Monday to support a change in the current Minnesota Open Meetings Law.

The change would require the Minnesota State Legislature to change the current law. Which requires meetings of governmental bodies generally be open to the public and that members participating remotely do so from a location open to the public.

“What we would like is for them to make it possible to have hybrid or virtual meetings,” said Councilor-At-Large Therese Tomanek. “We’re not asking them to change it totally and forever, but only to make it an option.”

Councilor Tomanek said the Council wishes to make access to meetings of the 34 city boards and commissions easier for local officials and members of the public who wish to attend, but who might be unable to attend an in-person meeting.

“[In] Council, it’s really wonderful we can meet and have that open exchange, but we also have the option of the public can come and sit here in chambers and talk to us, or they can be online. And that’s what we’re asking for, for boards and commissions,” said Councilor Tomanek.

Councilor Tomanek also said that allowing local officials to hold meetings remotely when we’re faced with sometimes-dangerous weather can help keep officials and members of the public safe.

The Council is requesting that a change in the Open Meetings Law be added to Duluth’s legislative agenda and be submitted to the State Legislature for consideration.