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a. What officials are covered?

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  • Alabama

    Individual executive officials are not subject to the Alabama Open Meetings Act except when they meet as members of governmental bodies.

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  • Alaska

    The Open Meetings Act covers "meetings" of various public bodies, and does not purport to regulate communications between and among specific executive branch employees, as such, e.g., between the governor or mayor and his or her aides. So, whether or not a meeting attended by a particular government official, such as a governor or mayor, is covered by the OMA depends on whether that gathering is otherwise a meeting, and not on the attendance of that specific individual. Groups of public employees who work for a particular department will often interact with each other in the process of making decisions or carrying out the functions of their agency. The 1994 amendment to the OMA clarified that such meetings are presumptively not within the scope of the OMA. The individual deliberations of a public official concerning adoption of regulations do not constitute a "meeting" and therefore do not trigger the requirements of the OMA. Krohn v. State, Dept. of Fish and Game, 938 P.2d 1019, 1022 (Alaska 1997). The 1994 exclusion for staff meetings and other gatherings of employees probably did nothing other than clarify and codify how the OMA was generally understood to apply before this revision. A 1981 Attorney General's opinion distinguishes between casual and routine operational meetings of employees, and gatherings of groups with a more or less fixed membership, meeting on a regular basis. Although it was issued as an interpretation of the law as it existed at that time, it would appear that the opinion still provides useful guidance on this issue.

    The casual, day-to-day meetings of government officials and employees who are not so constituted [as a body charged with specific functions and constituted of formally organized, specific members who meet to consider or act with respect to those functions] are simply not amenable to the public notice required by [the OMA]. . . . The law here may not properly be interpreted to include just any coming together of government officials or employees. Notice of their catch-as-catch-can meetings is simply impossible, and therefore, not contemplated by the law.

    Ad hoc groups or task forces whose membership consists of nonspecific, interchangeable representatives of various state agencies or of state agencies and their counterparts from federal agencies, whose functions are vague and similarly nonspecific and change from meeting to meeting should not, therefore, be included within the coverage of the Open Meetings Act. It would be possible, of course, to establish (by law or by gubernatorial and secretarial directive) a formal, interagency or intergovernmental committee with a specific membership and vest it with specific powers and assign it certain functions to be acted upon by a vote of the committee's membership. If that is done, the law applies. But where the committee, task force or group has no power to act by a vote of its members, has no fixed functions which constitute its business, and has no fixed membership to exercise its power by vote, then the Open Meetings Act, by its own terms, does not apply.

    In sum, it is our view that the Open Meetings Act only applies to multi-member bodies, which have a fixed membership, which are supported in whole or in part by public money, and which are empowered pursuant to law to exercise governmental power or to provide advice through a vote of their membership. It does not apply to meetings of individuals, who are public officers or employees, such as the cabinet, but who are not empowered collectively to exercise power or provide advice as a body by a vote of their members.

    May 11, 1981, Op. Att'y Gen. No. J-66-655-81, at 4.

    (Opinions of the Attorney General are issued from time to time in response to requests from public officials. News media and private citizens cannot formally initiate a request for an Attorney General opinion. They are essentially the legal opinions of one lawyer — the executive branch's lawyer — and are not binding upon the courts. They are more or less useful as guidance about what a court will do, depending on how well researched they are and how thorough and thoughtful the analysis is.)

    A similar distinction discussed in a 1985 Attorney General's opinion, regarding evaluation of Anchorage office complex proposals, likewise appears to remain an accurate and useful interpretation of how the OMA applies to employee gatherings after the 1994 revisions. The Department of Administration was advised that "staff level" advisory evaluation committees are not subject to the OMA because such evaluation committees are, in practical terms, simply employees undertaking typical staff functions. "There is no indication that the legislature intended to subject such informal, staff-level meetings to the requirements of the OMA." Jan. 30, 1985, Op. Att'y Gen. No. 366-330-85. Attorney General did advise, however, that where the Request for Proposals in question provided for appointment of a five person committee to evaluate proposals for aesthetic considerations and to assign a score that would form part of the basis for awarding the office complex contract, a court would "more likely than not" rule that this committee — made up of three executive branch appointees, a representative of the Municipality of Anchorage, and a private architect appointed by the state — was a body covered by the OMA. Id. Compare, Jan. 1, 1992, Attorney General Op. No. 663-91-0351, advising that meetings of a mental health lands working group trying to reach a settlement of litigation involving a state mental health lands trust, were not subject to the OMA.

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  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    The FOIA applies to the “governing bodies” of state agencies and local entities that carry out executive functions. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-106(a). E.g., Ark. State Police Comm’n v. Davidson, 253 Ark. 1090, 490 S.W.2d 788 (1973) (commissioners of state agency); Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 90-216 (“control group” for multi-jurisdictional drug task force).

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  • California

    The Bagley-Keene Act applies to members of state bodies, when actions are taken by them as a state board, commission or similar multimember group. Cal. Gov't Code § 11121. The Act also applies to members who have been appointed or elected and have not yet assumed office. Cal. Gov't Code § 11121.95. The Act does not apply to officials when acting in their individual capacity.
    The Brown Act does not apply to executive agencies.

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  • Colorado

    The Sunshine Law expressly applies to all meetings of two or more members of any state agency or committee thereof. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-6-401(2)(a). See, e.g., Hyde v. Banking Bd., 38 Colo. App. 41, 552 P.2d 32 (1976).

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  • Connecticut

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Delaware

    FOIA does not usually apply to an executive body of one. Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 01-ib15 (Oct. 23, 2001).

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  • Georgia

    Executive branch agencies and officials are subject to the Act. O.C.G.A. §§ 50-14-1(a); 50-14-6.

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  • Hawaii

    The law applies to officials in all political subdivisions of the state, see Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-71, except for legislators, who are governed by the rules and procedures of their respective chamber. Id. § 92-10 (1996).

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  • Idaho

    Idaho’s Open Meeting Law excludes elected officials such as the governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, mayors, and so on, when they are acting in an official, executive capacity. Deliberations of the board of tax appeals, the public utilities commission and the industrial commission in which “a fully submitted adjudicatory proceeding in which hearings, if any are required” have been held, are specifically excepted from the open meeting requirements of the Open Meeting Law. Idaho Code § 74-203(2). However, those bodies have the discretion to conduct such deliberations in a public meeting. Idaho Code § 74-203(2).

    Meetings of the Idaho life and health insurance guaranty association, the Idaho insurance guaranty association and the surplus line association are not required to take place in a meeting open to the public. Idaho Code § 74-203(3).

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  • Illinois

    The Act does not name "covered" officials; neither does it exempt certain officials. Executive agencies are included in the definition of "public body." See 5 ILCS 120/1.02.

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  • Indiana

    The statute applies to “public agencies” and “governing bodies,” not officials. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-3(a).

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  • Iowa

    Executive branch agencies are expressly created by statute. See e.g., Iowa Code Chapter 84 (Department of Workforce Development) and 94 (Employment Service Agencies). Accordingly, they are covered by the statute. No statutory provision limits the particular executives, e.g. governor, mayors, etc., to which chapter 21 applies.

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  • Kansas

    Only those who are members of a governing body. Office of mayor is separate and distinct from the members of the council and, therefore, not covered by KOMA. Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 1986-110.

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  • Kentucky

    A "member" of a public agency is covered by the Open Meetings Act: "'Member' means a member of the governing body of the public agency and does not include employees or licensees of the agency." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.805(4).

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  • Louisiana

    State and local executive branch officials are not covered. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:13(3).

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  • Maine

    The coverage of the Act is not generally determined by the identify of officials, but rather by whether officials are at a public proceeding covered by the Act.

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  • Maryland

    To the extent that governmental officials are members of a public body not exempt under the Act, they are subject to its provisions; however, the Act only covers entities comprised of two or more individuals. § 3-101(h). All members of such a public body are covered regardless of whether they are governmental employees. § 3-101.

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  • Massachusetts

    The Open Meeting Law applies only to “multiple-member” public bodies. G.L. c. 30A, § 18 (definition of “public body”). It does not apply to individual government officials, such as the governor or a mayor or police chief, nor to members of their staffs. As a consequence, such officials may meet with one another or with their staffs to discuss public business without having to comply with Open Meeting Law requirements. “Open Meeting Law Guide” (Att’y Gen’l, July 1, 2010), at 2.

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  • Michigan

    “MCL 15.273(1) provides: ‘A public official who intentionally violates this act shall be personally liable in a civil action for actual and exemplary damages of not more than $ 500.00 total, plus court costs and actual attorney’s fees to a person or group of persons bringing the action.’ Accordingly, this statute mandates personal liability for a public official who intentionally violates the OMA.” Leemreis v. Sherman Twp., 273 Mich. App. 691, 701-702 (Mich. Ct. App. 2007).

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  • Minnesota

    Officials (1) of any state agency, board, commission or department who are required or permitted by law to transact public business in a meeting; (2) on the governing body of a school district, unorganized territory, county, statutory or home rule city, town or other public body; (3) on committees, subcommittees, boards, departments, and commissions of public bodies; and (4) on the governing body or commission of a statewide public pension plan or local public pension plan are covered by the Open Meeting Law. Minn. Stat. § 13D.01, subd. 1.

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  • Mississippi

    Each individual member of the public body that is covered by the law. § 25-14-15.

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  • Montana

    The Supreme Court has ruled that “agency” does not include individual employees. A television station argued it had the right to have a reporter cover a meeting of the Billings city engineer, the public works director, and a private construction company. The court determined Art. II, § 9 of the Constitution limits the right to know to agencies, so journalists are not entitled to attend meetings between an individual public employee and a private party. SJL of Mont. v. City of Billings, 263 Mont. 142, 867 P.2d 1084 (1993). However, in another case, a representative of the Commissioner of Higher Education conducting meetings around the state with representatives of each of the branches of the University system was subject to the open meetings law. Associated Press v. Crofts, 2004 MT 120, 321 Mont. 193, 89 P.3d 921.

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  • Nebraska

    The Open Meetings Act applies to “public bodies,” not individual officials.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute applies to public agencies and public bodies and to their members and employees who hold official positions, such as, “chair” and “executive director.”

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  • New Jersey

    OPMA applies only to a "public body" — "a commission, authority, board, council, committee or any group of two or more persons organized under the laws of this State and collectively empowered as a voting body to perform a public governmental function . . . or collectively authorized to spend public funds." N.J.S.A. 10:4-8a. Therefore the activities of an executive such as the Governor or a mayor are not covered by the law.

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  • New Mexico

    Individual officials in their individual capacity are not covered, but any and all officials as part of a quorum of a board, commission, administrative adjudicatory body, or other policymaking body of any state, county or city, district, or other political subdivision are covered.  NMSA 1978 § 10-15-1(B). In Republican Party of New Mexico v. New Mexico Taxation & Revenue Dep't, 2012-NMSC-026, ¶¶ 43-46, 283 P.3d 853, the court significantly limited the ability of the executive branch to assert executive privilege to prevent disclosure of matters other than communications.

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  • New York

    Executive officials acting as part of a public body for the purpose of conducting public business are covered by the OML. See, e.g., Warren v. Giambra, 12 Misc.3d 650, 813 N.Y.S.2d 892 (Sup. Ct. 2006) (presence of the County Executive meant a meeting of the Democratic majority was not an exempt caucus under OML); Oneonta Star v. Bd. of Trustees, 66 A.D.2d 51, 412 N.Y.S.2d 927 (3d Dep’t 1979) (meeting of mayor, local school board and city council committee). See also In re Poughkeepsie Newspaper, N.Y.L.J., June 12, 1987 (Sup. Ct., Dutchess Cty., 1987) (“public policy precludes an elected official (in this case Mayor Koch) from exculpating himself from the Open Meetings Law Statute through the subterfuge of acting through an Advisory Committee to study, report and recommend potential legislative action concerning a governmental function”). But see NYPIRG v. Governor’s Advisory Comm’n, 133 Misc.2d 613, 507 N.Y.S.2d 798 (Sup. Ct. 1986) (advisory commission is not subject to OML where it merely makes recommendations and was created by executive order).

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  • North Carolina

    Any two or more officials who officially comprise a committee or subcommittee would constitute a public body subject to the Open Meetings Law. No individual official acting alone is covered, nor are ad hoc committees.

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  • Ohio

    Only a "public body" needs open meetings in accordance with the law. Public bodies of the executive branch of government are public bodies. Insofar as the law applies to the executive branch of government, a "public body" is:

    • "Any board, commission, committee, council, or similar decision-making body of a state agency, institution, or authority." Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(B)(1)(a).
    • Any "board, commission, committee, council, agency, authority, or similar decision-making body of any county, township, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision of local public institution." Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(B)(1)(a).
    • "Any committee or subcommittee" of any board, commission, committee, council, or similar decision-making body of a state agency, institution, or authority. Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(B)(1)(b).
    • "Any committee or subcommittee" of any board, commission, committee, council, agency, authority, or similar decision-making body of any county, township, municipal corporation, school district,or other political subdivision of local public institution." Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(B)(1)(b).

    A single public official does not qualify as a "public body." Beacon Journal Publishing Co. v. City of Akron, 3 Ohio St. 2d 191, 209 N.E.2d 399 (1965); Smith v. City of Cleveland, 94 Ohio App. 3d 780, 641 N.E.2d 828 (1994).

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  • Oklahoma

    The Act does not apply to "officials" but rather to "public bodies." However, under the Open Records Act, "public official" means" any official or employee of any public body." 51 O.S. § 24A.3(4). The Governor's Security and Preparedness Executive Panel, a majority of its members being public officials, has been found to not be subject to the Open Meetings Act. See 2002 OK AG 5. "[T]he mere presence on the panel of people who may be public officials in other facets of government does not in and of itself render the panel a public body." Id.

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  • Oregon

    All officials who are members of a governing body are covered when a quorum of that body is convened to make a decision or deliberate toward a decision.

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  • Pennsylvania

    All officials are covered so long as they are acting as the “quorum” of an agency. 65 Pa. C.S.A. § 703. However, neither the Governor nor a commission appointed by the Governor to advise him on the selection of trial court judges was deemed an “agency” under the Act. See Ristau v. Casey, 647 A.2d 642 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 1994).

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  • Rhode Island

    All public bodies which “convene” to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public body has “supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.”  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-2(1).

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  • South Carolina

    The meetings of public bodies, including boards and commissions of the executive branch, are subject to the act. Meetings of the governor's cabinet are subject to the act in those instances when the cabinet is convened to discuss or act upon a matter over which the Governor has granted to the cabinet, by executive order, supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-65.

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  • South Dakota

    The law does not refer to meetings of officials acting in an individual capacity.

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  • Tennessee

    The term governing body has been construed to include "any board, commission, committee, agency, authority or any other body, by whatever name, whose origin and whose members have authority to make decisions or recommendations on policy or administration affecting the conduct of the business of the people in the governmental sector." Dorrier v. Dark, 537 S.W.2d at 892. The Act applies to administrative agency proceedings. L. Harold Levinson, Contested Cases Under the Tennessee Uniform Procedures Act, 6 Mem. St. U. L. Rev. 215, 234 (1976).

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  • Texas

    Sections 551.143 and 551.144 provide that "[a] member" of a governmental body who knowingly violates the terms of the Act is subject to punishment by fine, imprisonment, or both. It is clear, therefore, that the Act applies to all public officials who are members of a governmental body. See, e.g., Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. No. GA-0019 (2003) (finding that a council within the executive branch of government that is directed by at least five members appointed by the administrative head of at least five agencies and which develops procedures that member agencies must follow in purchasing pharmaceuticals is "a governmental body that has supervision or control over public business is subject to the Open Meetings Act.").

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  • Vermont

    The Open Meeting Law applies to boards, councils, commissions, committees, and not to individual officials.  1 V.S.A. § 310(4).

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Wyoming

    No officials are covered unless acting as part of a "governing body." Wyo. Att'y Gen. Op. 73-17 (1973).

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