Governor lifts restrictions on Council deliberations

Last Friday, Governor Inslee extended and revised his emergency proclamation that suspended provisions of the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act, lifting the restrictions on the Council and other public agencies from taking certain actions.

The revised proclamation retains the prohibition on in-person meetings, and requires that online meetings allow the public to attend at least through telephonic access:

Any public agency, subject to RCW 42.30, is prohibited from conducting any meeting, subject to RCW 42.30 unless (a) the meeting is not conducted in-person and instead provides an option(s) for the public to attend the proceedings through, at minimum, telephonic access, and may also include other electronic, internet or other means of remote access, and (b) provides the ability for all persons attending the meeting to hear each other at the same time.

The proclamation removes the language in previous versions that prohibits public agencies, including the Seattle City Council, from taking “actions” that aren’t either “necessary and routine” or necessary to respond to the COVID emergency. That frees up the Council to move back toward its normal pace of work, including committee meetings and taking up their usual diverse set of legislation.

This also clears the way for the Council to restart its deliberations on the proposed payroll tax, which were suspended last month because of the Governor’s proclamation.

The revised proclamation will also allow other city agencies to begin to take actions on work items that they shelved as well.

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