What is the status of the suspended Open Meetings Act
On Friday (November 6), the governor’s office extended the
Open Meetings Act suspensions for another 30 days. Previously, on March 16,
the governor granted the office of the attorney general’s request for
suspension of certain open meeting statutes.
The temporary suspension allows, among other things, for telephonic or
videoconference meetings of governmental bodies that are accessible to the
public in an effort to reduce in-person meetings that assemble large groups
of people. The guidance associated
with the suspension provides that: “These suspensions are in effect until
terminated by the office of the governor, or until the March 13, 2020,
disaster declaration is lifted or expires.” The March 13 declaration has been
extended for successive 30-day periods, including Friday’s extension.
That means the relevant open meetings laws remain suspended for at least
another 30 days (or until affirmatively rescinded).
We can’t be certain, but it is highly likely that the governor
will continue to repeatedly extend his declarations. We’ve heard from his
staff that they have no immediate plans to rescind the suspensions, which are
sensible and seem to be working well, but that can’t be guaranteed.
We are sorry for the delay in reporting the recent extension;
we initially missed the order in our daily review of relevant press releases.
Has the Governor’s office said anything about plans for
COVID-19 treatment distribution now that the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) recently authorized the use of the first medical
treatment for the virus?
Yes. Yesterday (November 10), the Governor’s office
issued a press release describing the new antibody drug,
bamlanivimab, and the FDA’s recent (November 9) blessing to distribute it.
According to the Governor’s press release:
The State of Texas has already prepared to distribute the
COVID-19 vaccines and medical treatments.
The Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has already
developed a Vaccine Distribution
Plan and is working with health care providers to enroll in
their Immunization Program to
be eligible to administer these vaccines once available. Over 2,500 providers
have already enrolled in the program. DSHS formed an Expert Vaccine
Allocation Panel to develop vaccine allocation strategies.
The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is prepared
to assist the swift distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. In late
October, TDEM hosted the State of Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Virtual Tabletop
Exercise – over 1,000 local, state, federal, and non-governmental
organization partners came together to test the state’s vaccine support plan,
understand its operational procedures, and examine their roles and
"Swift distribution of vaccines and medical treatments
will begin to heal those suffering from COVID-19, slow the spread of the virus,
and aid in reducing hospitalizations of Texans," said Governor Abbott.
"As we anticipate the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, the
State of Texas is prepared to quickly distribute those medicines to Texans
who voluntarily choose to use them."
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject