Open Meetings Act

News & Analysis as of

The Ethics Advisor: Good Governance Floats on a Sea of Integrity

“In civilized life, law floats in a sea of ethics,” the late Earl Warren, who served as a U.S. Supreme Court chief justice and as California attorney general and governor, stated in a 1962 speech. In a closely related sense,...more

Looking Forward: New California Laws for Public Agencies

Like years past, there were plenty of laws passed in Sacramento in 2016 that will impact public agencies. Here is a summary of those that have specific importance to your work. We hope that you will contact us for further...more

Court Rules that Final Board Action Requires a Public Recital that Includes the Key Terms of an Action Item

In a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, the Court held that a public body was in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) where the public body failed to include the key terms in its public recital approving two action...more

Court of Appeals Holds Email Deliberations Among a “Quorum" of a Public Body Violates the Open Meetings Act

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that email deliberations among a quorum of public body members violates the Open Meetings Act. The Nov. 1, 2016, unpublished opinion was issued by a three-judge panel in the case of...more

PAC Ruling Further Clarifies Impermissible Restrictions on Public Comment

One of the most legally perilous jobs of a school board is to preside over the public participation portion of a meeting. The key for a board is to balance its need to run efficient and orderly meetings with the ability of...more

Attorney General (PAC) Deems RIF Joint Committee for Teacher Placement Subject to OMA

The Public Access Counselor (PAC) division of the Attorney General’s Office recently held that the reduction in force joint committee (the “Joint Committee”) was subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act (OMA)....more

2016 Legislative Update: Summary of Changes in School Law

BOARDS OF EDUCATION - ENFORCEMENT OF BINDING PUBLIC ACCESS COUNSELOR OPINIONS - Public Act 99-586 - Effective Date: January 1, 2017 - Individuals who file lawsuits to enforce binding opinions from the PAC...more

Points & Authorities - Summer 2016

There Ought to be a Law: Consider This Alternative To Litigation - Government is becoming more intrusive. At the state and federal levels, a host of agencies and departments continuously create new rules for us to live...more

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion. A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the...more

Defend Trade Secrets Act — Implications for Private Funds

On May 11, 2016, the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) became law. The DTSA provides trade-secret protections on the federal level that are similar to those available through the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA)...more

Changes to the Open Meetings Act Allow Inspection of Closed Session Records

Effective June 30, 2016, the Open Meetings Act (OMA) has been amended to allow elected board members, or those appointed to fill vacancies on the board, to access closed session recordings and minutes. Access must be granted...more

Court Clarifies the Cease & Desist Requirement Prior to Initiating Brown Act Litigation

City’s Loss Illustrates Risks of Litigating Open Meeting Law Violation Claims - In 2012 the California Legislature amended the judicial remedies aspect of the Brown Act “Opening Meetings” Law. That amendment added...more

Foliage, Frost, Frozen Ponds and The FOIA: More Interesting Cases From The FOIC (Part One)

Dropping thermometers did not diminish the heated action occurring before Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”]. It should also go without saying that the accompanying snow, ice and other perils of winter...more

Boards Of Education Beware: Ohio Supreme Court Closes Door On Open Meeting Loopholes

Because public body meetings are required to be open to the public in Ohio, just exactly what constitutes a “meeting” of a public body has long been a matter of some debate, especially as means of communication have expanded...more

Iowa Supreme Court: So-Called “Shuttle Diplomacy” May Violate Open Meeting Law

This is the first part in a three part series exploring important changes to Iowa’s open meeting law. Iowa’s open meeting law seeks to ensure that the basis and reasoning for governmental decisions are easily accessible...more

Open Meetings Act Update: "Informal Meetings;" Remote Participation

A recent Court of Appeals decision regarding Open Meetings Act requirements for "informal meetings" of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, and continued questions about whether members of public bodies can...more

Hutchison v. Shull: Expanding Iowa’s Open Meeting Law (Part 1)

Warren County is governed by a three-member Board of Supervisors. The supervisors asked the Warren County Administrator to assist the Board in their stated goal of improving the efficiency of the county government. To that...more

Health Care Advisory: Georgia Hospitals Can Close the Door on Open Records Requests

In a closely watched case, the Georgia Court of Appeals, in Smith v. Northside Hospital, Inc., affirmed the determination that Northside Hospital—a private, nonprofit corporation—was not required to comply with a request for...more

Bagley-Keene Act Roils State Bar Committees

Today, the California State Bar becomes subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act (Cal. Gov’t Gov’t Code § 11120 et seq. ). The Bagley-Keene Act generally requires multimember state bodies to provide public notice of...more

The Brown Act – Reminding Local Governments that the Sun Continues to Shine in California

Transparency in government is a staple of American democracy. The Federal Freedom of Information Act and California’s Public Records Act are two examples of laws that are intended to provide transparency for government’s...more

Appellate Court Affirms Circuit Court Reversal of PAC Opinion on OMA Violation

Last year, an Illinois Circuit Court overturned a Public Access Counselor opinion that found that the Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 violated the Open Meetings Act when it voted on the separation...more

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Attorney General Binding Opinions on Open Meetings Issues

In Board of Education of Springfield School District No. 186 v. Attorney General of Illinois et al., 2015 IL App (4th) 140941, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld a trial court's reversal of two Illinois Attorney General...more

PAC Actions Offer Guidance on the Scope of the Unduly Burdensome Exception to FOIA

In October, the PAC released a written response to a FOIA request that it denied because it would be unduly burdensome under Section 3(g) of FOIA. 5 ILCS 140/3(g). The request asked for “Public Access Counselor determinations...more

Limitations of Labor Negotiations Exception to Brown Act - Does Not Include Negotiation of a Project Labor Agreement When the...

The labor negotiations exception to the open-meeting requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act does not permit a community college district’s governing board to meet in closed session to discuss the negotiation of a project...more

California Court: School Districts Cannot Prevent Posting of Videos of Open Board Meetings

Our friends over at the EdLawConnectBlog in California published a blog about an interesting case from the Golden State that school leaders from across the country may find interesting. The case addressed whether school...more

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