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B. Budget sessions

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  • Alabama

    Budget sessions are presumptively open unless they fall within the statutory exceptions in the Alabama Open Meetings Act. Ala. Code § 36-25A-2(6)(a)(2). Also, a number of statutes contain an explicit requirement that money cannot be appropriated for any purpose except at an open meeting. See, e.g., Ala. Code §§ 11-44-31, -87, -136.

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  • Alaska

    "Budget" is an ambiguous and overworked term used, and often abused, to justify executive sessions. There is no legal provision for closed meetings to discuss budgets, per se. In fact, the process of developing the state budget is supposed to be public. See AS 37.07.010(6). But, AS 44.62.310(c)(1) allows a body to discuss in executive session "matters, the immediate knowledge of which would clearly have an adverse effect on the finances of the government unit." AS 44.62.312(b) says this provision must be construed narrowly in order to effectuate the policies underlying the Open Meetings Act and avoid unnecessary executive sessions. So, the budget process should rarely if ever be a proper subject for executive session. Note that the law now requires that a motion to convene an executive session must clearly and with specificity describe the subject of the proposed executive session.

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  • Arizona

    Budget sessions are subject to OML if conducted by a “public body.” Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. No. I81-058.

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  • Arkansas

    The FOIA does not exempt meetings at which budget matters are considered. See Ark. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 74-28 (state board cannot meet in closed session to decide which of several programs are to be funded). Because the act’s open meetings requirement applies only to governing bodies, a meeting of agency staff to review financial questions or prepare budget recommendations would not be open to the public. Other statutes touching on the issue seem to contemplate that budget sessions of governing bodies will be held in public. E.g., Ark. Code Ann. §§ 14-47-123, 14-47-125 (city board of directors).

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  • California

    Open — no specific exemption from open meeting requirements.

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  • Colorado

    Open, unless a two-thirds vote is taken to go into executive session to consider the purchase of property for public purposes. Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 24-6-402(3)(a)(I) (state) and 24-6-402(4)(a) (local).

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  • Connecticut

    There are no specific provisions or exemptions in FOIA on this issue. There are also no reported court decisions on this issue.

    An executive session may be allowed if an open session would result in the disclosure of exempt records. Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-200(6)(E). See Records Outline at II.A.2 and IV.

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  • Delaware

    Budget sessions are open.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Florida

    Because there is no statutory exemption from section 286.011 for budget sessions of a public agency, such sessions presumably fall within the purview of the Sunshine Act. See News-press Co. v. Carlson, 410 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 2d DCA 1982). Workshop sessions are subject to the Sunshine Law. See, e.g., Sch. Bd. of Alachua Cty., 661 So. 2d 331 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).

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  • Georgia

    The Act does not exempt budget sessions.

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  • Hawaii

    When Common Cause Hawaii filed suit against the legislature after its executive director was denied entry to a closed meeting of a legislative subcommittee working on the state budget, the court held that the issue was moot because the governor had vetoed the budget bill and the legislature had then met in special session to adopt a new budget bill. The court also noted that both House and Senate rules required open meetings and were therefore consistent with article III, section 12 of the Hawaii Constitution. Grade v. Kunimura, Civ. No. 66451 (Haw. 1st Cir. July 13, 1981).

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  • Idaho

    The Open Meeting Law does not reference particular types of meetings, other than those identified as properly subject to executive session. Idaho Code § 74-206. Budget sessions and federal programs generally are not proper subjects of an executive session.

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  • Illinois

    Would be generally covered by the Act and would be open unless an exempt topic is discussed.

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  • Indiana

    Budget sessions must be conducted in public unless a specific statutory authority provides otherwise. See Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-1.

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  • Iowa

    The open meetings statute does not address budget sessions, per se. If the other criteria of the statute are satisfied, e.g., majority, deliberation, etc., it would appear that the statute requires the meeting to be open. But see KCOB/KLVN, Inc. v. Jasper Cty. Bd. of Supervisors, 473 N.W.2d 171, 175 (Iowa 1991) (suggesting the city’s budget sessions that were closed may have violated chapter 21 had they not been purely ministerial in nature).

    State government. Upon receipt of the tentative budget, the governor must make provision for public hearings. Iowa Code § 8.26.

    Local government. Public hearing after estimates filed with clerk. Iowa Code § 24.9.

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  • Kansas

    Open to the public.  Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 1981-39 (“[G]overning bodies subject to the Kansas Open Meetings Act may not discuss salary schedules for hospital personnel, hospital budgets, hospital room rates, or other related financial affairs during closed or executive session.”).

    The consensus estimating group, which makes recommendations to the legislative budget committee, is an independent group with no statutory authority or duties in the exercise of its functions. The group is not under the guidance of any state agency and does not receive any public funds. Therefore, such group is not subject to KOMA. Kan. Att’y Gen. Op. 1994-93.

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  • Maine

    Open to the public. 1 M.R.S.A. § 405.

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  • Maryland

    The Act specifically defines a quasi-legislative function as the process or act of approving, disapproving, or amending a budget. § 3-101(j)(2). However, in Avara v. Baltimore News American, 292 Md. 543, 551-52, 440 A.2d 368, 372 (1982), the Court suggested that meetings of the Budget Conference Committee were subject to the open session requirement unless closed in accordance with the exemptions noted in § [3-305]. Further, the Act's enforcement section does specifically exempt actions taken by public bodies regarding the appropriations of public funds. § 3-401(a)(i); see also Avara, 292 Md. at 552, 440 A.2d at 372-73 (the deliberations of the Budget Conference Committee in the process of enacting the budget bill into law comes within the appropriating public funds exception and, thus, are not subject to the enforcement provisions of the Act); Board of County Comm'rs v. Landmark Community Newspapers of Md. Inc., 293 Md. 595, 446 A.2d 63 (1982) (budget work session of Board of County Commissioners is within the exception).

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  • Massachusetts

    Normally open, subject to collective bargaining and land acquisition exemptions.

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  • Michigan

    Presumably open.

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  • Minnesota

    Presumably open, provided they involve a state agency, board, commission or department required or permitted by law to transact public business in a meeting; the governing body of a school district, unorganized territory, county, statutory or home rule city, town, or other public body; the committees, subcommittees, boards, departments, or commissions of any public body; or the governing body or commission of a statewide public pension plan or local public pension plan. Minn. Stat. § 13D.01, subd. 1.

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  • Mississippi

    Open, except for personnel matters. See § 25-41-7(4)(a).

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  • Montana

    Not a basis for closing a meeting.

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  • Nebraska

    No specific exemption, but see Grein v. Board of Education, 216 Neb. 158, 164, 343 N.W.2d 718, 723 (1984). Where public finances are involved, the "public interest" ordinarily demands an open meeting. Id.

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  • New Hampshire

    Subject to the Statute.

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  • New Jersey

    Where a budget session is attended by an effective majority of the public body, it is required to be open to the public. Where a budget session is attended by less than a quorum or effective majority, it is not required to be open to the public unless the group or committee has effective authority to act on portions of the budget or to prevent certain budget items from coming before the public body. See N.J.S.A. 10:4-8b and c; Atty. Gen. Formal Op. 1976, No. 19.

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  • New Mexico

    For the executive or administrative bodies, no special rule.  Meetings of the legislative conference committees on appropriation bills have been closed pursuant to NMSA 1978 § 10-15-2(B).  Whether Article IV, Section 12 of the New Mexico Constitution, which requires public sessions of each House, allows the Legislature to close conference committees has not been addressed; however, NMSA 1978 § 10-15-2 covers conference committees and subjects them to Open Meetings Act requirements.

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  • New York

    Buffalo News v. City of Buffalo Common Council, 585 N.Y.S.2d 275 (Sup. Ct. 1992) (closure of meeting where entire legislature of one political party and stated purpose was to adopt plan addressing budget deficit was in violation of OML); Puka v. Greco, 104 A.D.2d 362, 479 N.Y.S.2d 150 (2d Dep’t 1984) (while violation of OML clearly did occur as a matter of law, without the requisite showing of good cause, the village budget cannot be invalidated on the grounds that it was adopted in contravention of the law); Kessel v. D’Amato, 97 Misc.2d 675, 412 N.Y.S.2d 303 (Sup. Ct. 1979) (informal luncheon gathering at which staff reported on budget was meeting subject to OML); Orange Cty. Publications v. City of Middletown, No. 5685/78 (Sup. Ct., Orange Cty., Dec. 26, 1978) (lay-offs of municipal firemen are primarily budgetary matters and not personnel matters, and thus executive session was not authorized).

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  • North Carolina

    There is no specific statute dealing with budget sessions.

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  • North Dakota

    Generally open. Please see the discussion of statutory exemptions, outlined in Section II(A)(2) above.

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  • Ohio

    Open sessions. Ohio Rev. Code § 121.22(B)(2).

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  • Oklahoma

    There are no exemptions for budget sessions.

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  • Oregon

    These matters are conducted in public session. For many public bodies, a budget committee separate from the governing body deals with the preliminary discussions about the budget. Such committees are generally subject to the Public Meetings Law as advisory committees to the governing body.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Open if agency business or official action is involved unless one of the Act’s exceptions applies.

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific exemption. The Attorney General has determined that meetings of a public committee concerning budget are not exempt.  See Op. Att’y Gen., February 13, 1986.

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  • South Carolina

    The adoption of a budget should be public under the act because there is no exemption that fairly encompasses the budget process. But some public bodies try to debate budget matters behind closed doors, claiming that the discussion is about compensation of employees. Some also claim it relates to "personnel matters," notwithstanding there is no exception to the open meeting requirement for discussion of personnel matters.

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  • South Dakota

    Presumably open. E.g., state agencies (SDCL §§4-7-1, 10); counties (SDCL §§7-21-8, 9); school boards (SDCL §13-11-2); municipalities (SDCL §9-21-2).

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  • Tennessee

    Presumably open.

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  • Texas

    Budget sessions are not excepted from disclosure and, therefore, must be open.

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  • Utah

    Budget sessions are open to the public.

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  • Virginia

    Budget sessions are subject to the Act and may not be considered as a whole in executive session. 1973-1974 Va. Op. Atty. Gen. 450 (April 10, 1974).   Discussion by the Governor and any economic advisory board reviewing forecasts of economic activity and estimating general and non-general fund revenues may be closed.  Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3711.A.15.

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  • Washington

    Budget sessions are open to the public except those portions that might be closed because they fall within one of the categories for permissible executive sessions.

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  • West Virginia

    The statute does not permit budget sessions to be closed to the public. As discussed earlier, the state Supreme Court held in Common Cause of W. Va. v. Tomblin, 186 W. Va. 537, 413 S.E.2d 358 (1991), that the process of preparing the Budget Digest must be conducted in conformance with the Open Meetings Act.

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  • Wisconsin

    City budget sessions are expressly open. Wis. Stat. §§ 64.07(6); 65.04(7). A similar requirement exists for the Milwaukee School Board's budget hearing. Wis. Stat. § 119.16(8)(a). There is no express provision for closing other budget sessions.

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  • Wyoming

    A municipality must give notice by publishing a summary of the tentative budget at least one week before the hearing date in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality, or otherwise post the notice in three conspicuous places within the municipality. Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-109 (1977, Rev. 1995 & Cum. Supp. 1996). Financial statements and reports of financial position, operating results and other pertinent information must be available for public inspection during regular business hours. Wyo. Stat. § 16-4-119 (1977, Rev. 1982).

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