Open Meetings in the Era of a Pandemic

Social distancing requires governmental bodies to find a new way to operate.  The requirements of the of the Kansas Open Meeting laws still apply, even when there are restrictions on the number of people who can gather and the public is encouraged to stay home.   To help local governments continue to function and ensure transparency of the process and decisions, the State Rules and Regulations Board voted to approve temporary regulations proposed by the Kansas Attorney General.  While it is expected that permanent regulations will be proposed and evaluated using usual adoption procedures, the temporary regulations should be followed by local governments.

The public notice of the meeting should describe whether the meeting will be held through some sort of interactive communication or if it will be in person with limited physical access to the public.  It should also explain why the meeting is being held in this manner, such as an order on the size of public groups. Most importantly, the notice should describe how members of the public can listen to, observe and/or participate in the meeting by phone of some other interactive communication.  Finally, the notice should include instructions on how members of the public can receive notice of the meetings and how to obtain, before the meeting, any written information to be discussed, such as agendas.  

As with any meeting, agendas, agenda packets and documents that will be discussed in the meeting, should be made available on the government’s website before the meeting.  During the meeting, an audio and video recording of the meeting, except any executive sessions, should be made.  The recording, along with minutes of the meeting should be posted online. 

If you have questions about Kansas Open Meeting laws, contact a Hite, Fanning and Honeyman, L.L.P. lawyer: 

Kelly Rundell


F. James Robinson

Kelly J. Rundell

Jerry D. Hawkins