Michigan Supreme Court Ruling Cancels Dexter City Council Meeting

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| 1 min | by Doug Marrin, with Justin Breyer, City Clerk for Dexter |

Last night’s (Oct. 12, 2020) Dexter City Council meeting was canceled due to the recent decision by the Michigan Supreme Court invalidating Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.

When signing into the Council meeting via Zoom, participants were greeted with the message,

“Due to today's clarification by the Michigan Supreme Court that the Governor's Executive Orders are no longer in effect as of October 2, 2020, tonight's virtual Council meeting has been canceled. We expect that the meeting will be rescheduled for either later this week or early next week. An e-mail update will be sent once the date has been confirmed.”

Say what?

Dexter City Clerk, Justin Breyer, helped clarify by explaining, “the MichiganOpen Meetings Act sets the rules on how public bodies such as City Council hold meetings. This statute has regularly been interpreted that regular meetings of public bodies must be held in person in a place that is accessible to the general public.”

The Open Meetings Act is a State Law, which supersedes any local policy or ordinance. When the pandemic hit, Gov. Whitmer issued a series of Executive Orders that effectively modified the Open Meetings Act to permit public bodies to meet by virtual means.

As a result, the City of Dexter, like other municipalities, began meeting virtually and open to the public. The City also posted its required public meeting notices with the virtual meeting information.

Breyer explains further that “The Supreme Court issued a ruling yesterday that the Governor's Executive Orders were effectively invalidated as of October 2, 2020. So, with the Executive Orders permitting public bodies to meet virtually no longer valid, the City's public meeting notices that included the virtual meeting information were invalidated, and the City was forced to cancel the City Council meeting.”

Justin also says that in the past few months, City Council has indicated a desire to continue meeting virtually for as long as State Law permits.

“There is a bill working its way through the State Legislature, Senate Bill 1108 (SB1108) to permit virtual meetings,” he adds. “If that bill passes and is signed by the Governor, then it is very likely that the City will continue meeting virtually. Whether the next meeting is in person or virtually will be based on when the State passes a bill allowing virtual meetings.”

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