Skip to content

A. Who may attend?

Posts

  • Alaska

    Alaska's Open Meetings Act (OMA) (AS 44.62.310-.312) protects the right of any member of the public to attend public meetings. AS 44.62.310(a).

    Out-of-jurisdiction meetings.  By requiring that meetings be open to the public, the law impliedly requires that they be held within the area in which the body has jurisdiction. See May 11, 1981, Attorney General Opinion, supra, at 5. Nevertheless, when necessary to its business, a board or commission (or subcommittee) and its staff can make duly noticed field trips outside the board's geographic jurisdiction. In doing so, however, the body must limit its activities to those for which the field trip was required, and it cannot act on other matters that could have been acted upon at its usual place of business at a public meeting. Id.

    view more
  • Arizona

    “All persons so desiring shall be permitted to attend and listen to the deliberations and proceedings” of any public meeting.  A.R.S. § 38-431.01(A).  The Open Meetings Law (“OML”), however, does not provide for active public participation in the meeting.  Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. Nos. I84-133, I83-049.

    Meetings may not be conducted in a language (e.g., Navajo) if its use prevents the public from understanding the business of the meeting.  Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. No. I84-133.

    view more
  • Arkansas

    Because the FOIA provides that meetings “shall be public,” Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-106(a), it appears that anyone may attend, including representatives of the news media. However, only an Arkansas citizen may bring an action under the FOIA claiming a violation of the act. Ark. Code Ann. § 25-19-107(a). See Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 97-016.

    view more
  • California

    All persons are permitted to attend any meeting of a state body or legislative body of a local agency, subject to the specific exceptions set forth in the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, Government Code Sections 11120-11132 (governing state bodies) and the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950-54963 (governing legislative bodies of local agencies).
    Attendance cannot be conditioned on registering, completing a questionnaire, signing an attendance list, or providing other information. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11124 (Bagley-Keene Act); 54953.3 (Brown Act). If such a list or questionnaire is posted near the entrance or circulated during the meeting, it must state that completion is voluntary and that all persons may attend regardless of whether they complete the document. Cal. Gov't Code §§ 11124 (Bagley-Keene Act); 54953.3 (Brown Act).

    view more
  • Colorado

    1. Although who constitutes the "public" is not defined in the statute, it has been expressly held to allow the attendance of "citizens," see Littleton Educ. Ass'n v. Arapahoe Cty. School Dist. No.  6, 191 Colo. 411, 553 P.2d 793 (1976) (local agencies); Cole v. State, 673 P.2d 345 (Colo. 1983) (state agencies); and, by implication, to the media. See Gosliner v. Denver Election Comm'n, 191 Colo. 328, 552 P.2d 1010 (1976); Glenwood Post v. City of Glenwood Springs, 731 P.2d 761 (Colo. App. 1988). See also Bagby v. School Dist. No. 1, 186 Colo. 428, 528 P.2d 1299 (1974) (expressly holding that informal conferences of school boards must be open to the public and to the news media).

    2. Even though reporters from the media are allowed access to attend meetings, this does not mean that the media have a right to broadcast public meetings where a potential for disruption of the meeting exists. Combined Commc'ns Corp. v. Finesilver, 672 F.2d 818 (10th Cir. 1982).

    view more
  • Connecticut

    FOIA states that "[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public." Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-225(a). FOIA also provides: "[n]o member of the public shall be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of [a public agency], to register the member's name, or furnish other information, or complete a questionnaire or otherwise fulfill any condition precedent to the member's attendance." Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-225(e).

    view more
  • Delaware

    Any citizen of Delaware, subject to certain exceptions, may attend a "meeting." 29 Del. C. § 10001; see also Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 96-ib01 (Jan. 2, 1996). A "meeting" is defined as a "formal or informal gathering of a quorum of the members of any public body for the purpose of discussing or taking action on public business." 29 Del. C. § 10002(b). See 29 Del. C. § 10002(c) (defining "public body"); 29 Del. C. § 10002(e) (defining "public business"). As a general matter, meetings must be held within the geographic jurisdiction of the public body. 29 Del. C. § 10004(g).

    view more
  • District of Columbia

    The District of Columbia "Open Meetings Act," D.C. Code Ann. § 1-207.42, provides access to "the public." Id. § 1-207.42(a).

    view more
  • Georgia

    Any member of the public.  O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1(b)(1).

    view more
  • Hawaii

    "[A]ll persons" may attend, but any person "who willfully disrupts a meeting to prevent and compromise the conduct of the meeting" may be removed. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-3.

    view more
  • Idaho

    In Idaho, meetings of a governing body of a public agency are open to the public unless closure of such meetings is expressly permitted under the Open Meeting Law. Idaho Code § 74-203(1). The meetings are expressly “open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting.” Idaho Code § 74-203(1). Although “public” and “persons” are not defined terms under the Law, there is nothing in the law to suggest that any distinction is to be made between different members of the public, whether they are citizens, residents, journalists or otherwise.

    view more
  • Illinois

    Any person may attend a public meeting; the Illinois Open Meetings Act, 5 ILCS 120/1 to 6, makes no distinction between members of the news media and members of the general public.

    view more
  • Indiana

    Members of the public may attend public meetings. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-3(a). At the heart of the Open Door Law is the requirement that meetings of “the governing bodies of public agencies” must be open to allow members of the public to “observe and record them.” Id. This does not mean that the law guarantees a citizen the right to speak; rather, it guarantees public access to the meetings.

    view more
  • Iowa

    All members of the public. Iowa Code § 21.2(3).

    view more
  • Kentucky

    Under Kentucky’s Open Meetings Act, any person may attend the meeting of a public agency: “All meetings of a quorum of the members of any public agency at which any public business is discussed or at which any action is taken by the agency, shall be public meetings, open to the public at all times… ." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.810(1).

    The public agency may not impose any conditions on attendance, and may not prohibit media coverage:

    No condition other than those required for the maintenance of order shall apply to the attendance of any member of the public at any meeting of a public agency. No person can be required to identify himself in order to attend any such meeting. All agencies shall provide meeting room conditions which insofar as is feasible allow effective public observation of the public meetings. All agencies shall permit news media coverage, including but not limited to recording and broadcasting.

    Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.840.

    A city may not, for example, require people attending a public meeting to identify whether they are residents of the city. 98-OMD-44. See also 92-146 ("As a general rule a public meeting of a public body is either opened to everyone under the Open Meetings Act or closed to everyone under a statutorily recognized exception to the Open Meetings Act. There is no principle of selective admission set forth in the Open Meetings Act").

    Although anyone may attend a public meeting, the Act does not guarantee a person the right to address the public agency during the meeting. See 95-OMD-99; see also 94-OMD-87 (city doesn't violate Act by not providing room for everyone at a particular meeting when the facility normally accommodates all those wishing to attend).

    view more
  • Louisiana

    Meetings of a public body required to be open shall be open to "the public." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:14(A).

    view more
  • Maine

    Any person “must be permitted to attend  a public proceeding” in Maine. 1 M.R.S.A. § 403(1).

    view more
  • Maryland

    The general public is entitled to attend an open session meeting of a public body. § 3-303(a).

    The public body, however, may adopt "reasonable" rules concerning the conduct of those attending the meeting. § 3-303(b). Such rules may address the videotaping, televising, photographing, broadcasting, or recording of its meetings. Id.

    view more
  • Michigan

    The OMA provides generally that "all persons" may attend "all meetings of a public body," except as otherwise provided. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.263(1). A person cannot be required as a condition of attendance "to register or otherwise provide his name or other information or otherwise to fulfill a condition precedent to attendances Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.263(4). The OMA also provides for attendees to address public meetings "under rules established and recorded by the public body." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.263(5); see Lysogorski v. Charter Twp. of Bridgeport, 256 Mich. App. 297, 662 N.W.2d 108 (2003) (under the OMA, public bodies have the authority to establish and enforce rules regarding public comment); see also, 1977-78 Op. Att'y Gen. 536 (1978) (the right to address a meeting of a school board may not be limited to persons who are residents of or members of the educational community of a school district). One cannot be excluded from public meetings "except for a breach of the peace actually committed at the meeting." Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.263(6). The public body is under a duty to exercise sincere efforts to accommodate the number of people who may reasonably be expected to attend a meeting. 1977-78 Op. Att'y Gen. 21, 33 (1977); 1979-80 Op. Att'y Gen. 519, 521 (1979).

    view more
  • Montana

    Article II, § 9 of the Montana Constitution guarantees any person the right to observe the deliberations of public bodies and agencies in Montana. "Person" includes citizen, alien, resident, nonresident, media person, or member of the public. Krakauer v. Commissioner of Higher Education, 381 P.3d 524 (2016).

    view more
  • Nebraska

    "The public" has a right to attend all or any part of a meeting of a "public body," except closed sessions as defined by statute. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-1412. There is no statutory or court definition of "the public," but the phrase does include "the media." Grein v. Board of Education, 216 Neb. 158, 163, 343 N.W.2d 718, 722 (1984).

    view more
  • Nevada

    Nevada's Open Meeting Law (“OML”) states: "all meetings of public bodies must be open and public, and all persons must be permitted to attend any meeting of these bodies." NRS 241.020(1).

    view more
  • New Hampshire

    RSA 91-A:2,II states: “Subject to the provisions of RSA 91-A:3, all meetings, whether held in person, by means of telephone or electronic communication, or in any other manner, shall be open to the public.” RSA 91-A:3 provides for “nonpublic sessions.”

    view more
  • New Jersey

    Any member of the public has the right to be present at all meetings of public bodies. N.J.S.A. 10:4-7.

    view more
  • New Mexico

    Any interested person.  NMSA 1978 § 10-15-1(A); Gutierrez v. City of Albuquerque, 1981-NMSC-061, 631 P.2d 304 (1981); Att'y Gen. Op. 1973-10.

    view more
  • North Carolina

    North Carolina General Statute Section 143-318.9 provides that public bodies “exist solely to conduct the people’s business” and should conduct their business openly. Therefore, anyone is entitled to attend an open session of a public body.

    view more
  • North Dakota

    The law contains no restrictions on who may attend public meetings. However, the attorney general has expressed doubt that a non-resident could invoke the open meetings law against a state agency. See Guy and McDonald, Government in the Sunshine: The Status of Open Meetings and Open Records Laws in North Dakota, 53 N.D. L. Rev. 51, 66 (1976).

    view more
  • Ohio

    Any person may attend. Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(C).

    view more
  • Oklahoma

    Any person may attend meetings of a public body. 25 O.S. § 303.

    view more
  • Oregon

    Under ORS 192.620 and 192.630, the stated policy of the State of Oregon is that decisions of public governing bodies operating in the State of Oregon are arrived at openly. This means that all meetings of public governing bodies shall be open to the public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting, except as otherwise provided by ORS 192.610-192.690. Thus, these statutes draw no distinctions between the media and other members of the public regarding attendance at public meetings, except for executive sessions, discussed infra. Oregon law makes no requirement that one be a citizen, taxpayer, resident or voter to attend a public meeting.

    view more
  • Rhode Island

    Any member of the public may attend an open meeting. R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-3. However, the OML expressly allows the removal of any person who willfully disrupts a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised. R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-5(d).

    The Attorney General has determined that if a meeting place is unexpectedly filled to capacity and it is not possible to accommodate registered voters and the general public in one room, officials may segregate non-voters from all others and request that non-voters assemble in a convenient place, in close proximity to the meeting, as long as they are provided with some type of communication device which allows the proceedings to be heard. See Op. Att’y Gen., July 3, 1991. However, in a 1999 opinion to the Town of West Warwick, the Attorney General stated that even if an event is filled to capacity due to a large amount of non-West Warwick residents, the Town could not first offer access to West Warwick residents and then offer seating to non-West Warwick residents on a first-come, first-serve basis as the Act does not restrict attendance at meetings of public bodies to residents of a particular city or town. See Op. Att’y Gen., March 11, 1999.

    view more
  • South Carolina

    Meetings are open to the public, including the news media. No citizenship or residency requirement is established. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-60.

    view more
  • South Dakota

    The "public" may attend. (SDCL §1-25-1)

    view more
  • Tennessee

    Any person may attend any open meeting that any governing body conducts. See T.C.A. § 8-44-102(a) (meetings open to "the public").

    view more
  • Texas

    The Texas Open Meetings Act (“the Act”) (Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.001 et seq., formerly Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. art. 6252-17 (Vernon 2004 & Supp. 2005)) does not specifically address who may attend open meetings. However, Section 551.142(a) provides that “[a]n interested person, including a member of the news media” may file suit to enforce the Act. See San Antonio v. Fourth Court of Appeals, 820 S.W.2d 762, 765 (Tex. 1991) (the “intended beneficiaries of the Act” are “members of the interested public”). “The majority of courts addressing the ‘interested person’ requirement have adopted an extremely broad interpretation regarding who constitutes an ‘interested person.’” Matagorda Cty. Hosp. Dist. v. City of Palacios, 47 S.W.3d 96, 102 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi 2001, no pet.); Save Our Springs All. Inc. v. Lowry, 934 S.W.2d 161, 163 (Tex. App.—Austin 1996, no writ) (per curiam) (standing under the Texas Open Meetings Act is broader than under the common law).

    In Cameron Cty. Good Gov’t League v. Ramon, 619 S.W.2d 224, 230 (Tex. App.—Beaumont 1981, writ ref’d n.r.e.), the plaintiffs consisted of a county good government league and two private citizens, all of whom were found to be within the statutory language of “interested persons” who had authority to commence a legal proceeding. The court wrote that “[i]t is difficult to see how the Legislature could broaden the class of ‘any interested person.’” See also City of Fort Worth v. Groves, 746 S.W.2d 907, 913 (Tex. App.—Fort Worth 1988, no writ) (finding that “affected taxpayer and citizen” had standing under the Open Meetings Act). This is consistent with the Act’s intent, which is to “safeguard the public’s interest in knowing the workings of its governmental bodies.” Cox Enter. Inc. v. Board of Trustees of Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 706 S.W.2d 956, 960 (Tex. 1986); see also Acker v. Texas Water Comm’n, 790 S.W.2d 299, 300 (Tex. 1990) (“The explicit command of the statute is for openness at every stage of the deliberations.”); Finlan v. City of Dallas, 888 F. Supp. 779, 783 (N.D. Tex. 1995) (“Thus, the public policy embodied in the [Act] is that, absent compelling reasons to the contrary, the public business should be conducted in public.”).

    view more
  • Utah

    In Utah, any person may attend an open government meeting. See Utah Code § 52-4-303(3).

    view more
  • Vermont

    The Vermont Open Meeting Law, 1 V.S.A. §§ 310-314, is silent as to its specific beneficiaries. Because the act is premised on Art. 6 of the Vermont Constitution, however, it applies to all “the people” of the state, including corporations. See Valley Realty & Development Inc. v. Town of Hartford, 165 Vt. 463, 685 A.2d 292 (1996); Central Vermont Public Service Corp. v. Town of Springfield, 135 Vt. 436, 379 A.2d 677 (1977). The act itself echoes that broad principle: “All meetings of a public body are declared to be open to the public at all times, except as provided in Section 313 [executive sessions].” 1 V.S.A. § 312(a).

    view more
  • Virginia

    All meetings shall be open to the public unless the topic of discussion at such meetings falls within one of the enumerated exemptions in § 2.2-3707.01 or § 2.2-3711.A. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3707.A.  No closed meeting shall be held unless the public body proposing to convene such meeting has followed the procedures for closing a meeting. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3712.

    view more
  • Washington

    “[A]ll persons” are generally permitted to attend any meeting of the governing body of a public agency. RCW 42.30.030. In the event that there is a disturbance and individuals are removed for disrupting the meeting, “[r]epresentatives of the press or other news media, except those participating in the disturbance,” will be allowed to remain in attendance. RCW 42.30.050. No one can be required, as a condition of attendance at a public meeting, to register his name or other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise fulfill any condition precedent to attendance. RCW 42.30.040. Though a governing body may set reasonable rules of conduct so the meetings can be conducted in an orderly fashion, access cannot be limited and cameras and tape recorders cannot be prohibited unless they are actually disruptive. RCW 42.30.050; Op. Atty. Gen. 1998, No. 15.

    view more
  • West Virginia

    Any member of the public may attend a meeting subject to the Open Meetings Act.

    view more
  • Wyoming

    The Public Meeting Law generally requires that meetings of "governing bodies" be open to "the public." Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-403(a) (1977, Rev. 1995); E.G. Rudolph, Wyoming Local Government Law, § 3.1, at 103 (1985). A person or group of persons who willfully disrupt a meeting to the point orderly conduct of the meeting is unfeasible can be removed, or the meeting can be moved. Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-406 (1977, Rev. 1982). The governing body shall establish procedures for readmitting "individuals not responsible for disturbing the conduct of a meeting." Id. Section 16-4-406 also states that "duly accredited members of the press or other news media except those who participated in a disturbance shall be allowed to attend any meeting permitted by this section." Id. "Duly accredited press member" is not defined. Finally, the statute states that all meetings of the governing body of an agency are open to the public at all times, "except where otherwise provided." Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-403(a) (1977, Rev. 1995). Accordingly, one must check the by-laws, rules and regulations of a particular governing body to ensure access to meetings.

    view more