Electronic/Telephonic Meetings

FOIA subsequently was amended to prohibit local governments from using electronic devices for meetings

Berry v. Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County (Supreme Court)

The Supreme Court of Virginia voids a revamped zoning ordinance vote that was taken in the first year of the pandemic because the board voted on it in an electronic meeting, but neither FOIA, the county's continuity of government ordinance nor an amendment made to the 2020 budget allowed for votes on matters that are not somehow time-sensitive.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-20

The provisions of § 2.2-3708.2 allowing members to participate in meetings by electronic communication means are alternative meetings procedures, not exemptions from public access that would allow meetings to be closed to the public. If a member is calling in due to a disability or medical condition or due to a personal matter, the member must specify which reason it is in order to notify the chair and comply with the requirements for minutes. A generalized concern about illness is not a sufficient reason to use the provision allowing remote participation due to a disability or medical condition, but following the recommendations of VDH and CDC to stay home during the COVID-19 state of emergency is a sufficient reason, particularly if the member is in one of the categories at higher risk to contract a severe illness. However, each body may set its own policy on participation as allowed by FOIA, up to and including not using these remote participation provisions at all.


Attorney General Opinion 20-24

On May 6, 2020, the Attorney General said that the amendments to the budget adopted by the General Assembly and signed by the governor in April 2020 would allow the General Assembly to meet remotely during a time of declared emergency, provided the bodies can meet the conditions offered in the amendments, including that the emergency makes meeting in person "impracticable or unsafe," and (among other things) providing minutes and making sure the public has electronic acess to the proceedings

Attorney General Opinion, 3/20/20

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Attorney General issued this opinion on the meetings of local and state government boards and whether/when they can meet electronically, without a quorum physically present at one site.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-16-02

A local body may not meet by any kind of electronic means; all participating members must be physically assembled in one place. The public, however, may participate in a meeting via electronic means.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-01

Use of an e-mail network listserv by city council members is an improper electronic meeting under FOIA.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #075

Under law as it existed prior to July 1, 1999, advance notice of a telephone meeting didn't need to list all locations from where telephone participation was to take place. Post-July 1, 1999, law says all locations must be identified.

Attorney General's Opinion 1999 #014

Two members of seven-member board may meet informally by phone, provided the two do not constitute a standing committee nor authorized to act on the board's behalf.

Attorney General's Opinion 1983-84 #440

Any official public body action must take place in a meeting where the membership is physically present.

Roanoke City School Board v. Times-World Corp.

Pre-arranged telephone conference call among members of a local school board, during which matters proper for an executive or closed session are discussed which are, is not a meeting under FOIA and does not violate the statutory requirement of prior notice to the public.
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