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b. State attorney general

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  • Alaska

    There is no provision in the law for citizens to appeal to or ask for a ruling from the state Attorney General concerning actual or threatened violations of the open meetings law, and the Attorney General will not entertain such requests for opinions from private citizens. However, public agencies involved, who are entitled to seek and obtain the advice of the Attorney General, may be able to get such questions answered either for themselves or on behalf of interested citizens who are working with them or through them.

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  • Arizona

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

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  • Arkansas

    Advice might also be sought, by telephone if necessary, from the Attorney General’s Office. Calls should be directed to the Opinions Division at (501) 682-5086 or toll-free at 1-800-482-8982. Sometimes an informal evaluation of the situation by the Attorney General’s Office will convince a governing body to open a meeting. However, presentation of the matter to the Attorney General is not required.

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  • California

    Neither Act specifically provides any mechanism to request a ruling from California's Attorney General regarding a challenged action. However, certain government officials may request the Attorney General's opinion to interpret any statute, including a provision of the Bagley-Keene or Brown Act. California Assembly members and Senators are permitted to request for an opinion to the California Attorney General's Office on any question of law relating to their respective offices, and might entertain a request from a constituent to seek an opinion from the Attorney General.

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  • Colorado

    Not Applicable.

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  • Delaware

    Any citizen may petition the Attorney General to determine whether a violation of the Act has occurred or is about to occur. 29 Del. C. § 10005(e). Within 20 days of receiving the petition, the Attorney General shall make a written determination of whether a violation has occurred or is about to occur and send a copy of the determination to the public body involved. Id. If the Attorney General finds that a violation has occurred, the citizen may either sue or request that the Attorney General file suit. Id. The citizen has the absolute right to sue regardless of the determination of the Attorney General and may move to intervene as party in any suit filed by the Attorney General. Id.

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  • District of Columbia

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Georgia

    Georgia’s Attorney General has express authority to bring enforcement actions, either civil or criminal, in his or her discretion as may be appropriate to enforce compliance with the Act.  O.C.G.A. § 50-14-5(a).

    In addition to advising state agencies on open government matters, the Attorney General has established an Open Government Mediation Program “to help citizens with questions or concerns about local government’s decisions to close meetings to the public or governmental responses to Open Records requests.”  Further information, including a contact name and phone number, is available at: http://law.ga.gov/open-government-mediation-program.

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  • Hawaii

    The attorney general and the prosecuting attorney enforce the open meetings law. Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-12(a).

    When a member of the Honolulu City Council requested an opinion from the county Ethics Commission concerning possible Sunshine Law violations involving a "briefing" held by the Council's Zoning Committee, the Ethics Commission determined that "there are no standards of conduct applicable to officers and employees who are alleged to have violated the provisions of the Sunshine Law." The Commission further recommended that any requests regarding enforcement be referred to the Prosecutor or the Attorney General. Honolulu Ethics Comm'n Letter (May 25, 1980).

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  • Idaho

    The state attorney general has specific responsibility for enforcing the Open Meeting Law in relation to state agencies. Idaho Code § 74-208(5). The prosecuting attorneys of the various counties have the duty to enforce the Open Meeting Law in relation to local public agencies within their respective jurisdictions. Idaho Code § 74-208(5). In the event that there is reason to believe that a violation of the provisions of the law has been committed by members of a board of county commissioners or, for any other reason a county prosecuting attorney is deemed disqualified from proceeding to enforce the law, the prosecuting attorney or board of county commissioners shall seek to have a special prosecutor appointed for that purpose as provided in section 31-2603, Idaho Code. Idaho Code § 74-208(5).

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  • Illinois

    Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has established the position of Public Access Counselor within the Public Access and Opinions Division of the Attorney General's office. The office seeks to enforce compliance with the Open Meetings Act. A person who believes that a violation of the Open Meetings Act has occurred may file a request for review with the Public Access Counselor established in the Office of the Attorney General. See 5 ILCS 120/3.5(a). Once the Public Access Counselor has issued a binding opinion, the process is over. Either party may, however, seek administrative review of the Public Access Counselor’s opinion.

    The office also provides answers to questions about the Act to the public, media, and to public officials, offers training on the Act to public officials, and takes action to resolve disputes arising under the Act. The telephone number of the Public Access Counselor is (877) 299-3642, and the correspondence may be sent to the Public Access Counselor at the Attorney General's Springfield office at 500 South Second Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706. The present acting Public Access Counselor is Sarah Pratt, an attorney who is a former investigative reporter for The Associated Press. More information may be found at: http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net/.

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  • Indiana

    There is no specific review by the state attorney general. However, at the state level, most state agencies have a specific deputy attorney general assigned to them, and he/she may facilitate a solution.

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  • Iowa

    The state attorney general (or a county attorney) may seek judicial enforcement in a chapter 21 proceeding. Iowa Code § 21.6(1). Any suit brought pursuant to chapter 21 must be brought "in the district court for the county in which the governmental body has its principal place of business." Iowa Code § 21.6(1).

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  • Kansas

    Attorney general or county and district attorneys have exclusive power to seek penalties or to void actions. K.S.A. 75-4320. Otherwise, "any person" may sue. K.S.A. 75-4320a.

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  • Kentucky

    To obtain the Attorney General's review of the agency's decision, the complaining party must forward a copy of the party's written complaint and a copy of the written denial to the Attorney General within 60 days after the denial was received. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(2). If the agency refuses to provide a written denial, the complaining party shall provide a copy of the written complaint within 60 days from the date the written complaint was submitted to the presiding officer of the public agency. Id.

    If the party does not file an appeal within 60 days, the Attorney General will refuse to hear the appeal. See 96-OMD-11 ("this office has no jurisdiction or authority to entertain the appeal and address the issues presented as it was not received within the required statutory time frame").

    The complaining party may also appeal to the Attorney General if the public agency agrees to remedy an alleged violation but the complaining party believes the agency's efforts are inadequate. Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(3)(a).

    Within ten (10) business days after receiving the written complaint and denial, if any, the Attorney General shall issue a written decision "which states whether the agency violated the provisions of [Ky. Rev. Stat.] 61.805 to 61.850. In arriving at the decision, the Attorney General may request additional documentation from the agency. On the day that the Attorney General renders his decision, he shall mail a copy to the agency and a copy to the person who filed the complaint." Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.846(2).

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  • Louisiana

    "The Attorney General shall enforce the provisions of the [Open Meeting Law] throughout the state. He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed." La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:25(A) Each district attorney also is required to enforce the Open Meeting Law throughout the judicial district within which he serves. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42:25(B).

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  • Maine

    The Maine Attorney General may be asked to issue an advisory ruling on an issue of statutory interpretation or on the applicability of the FOAA with respect to particular meetings or public bodies.  The FOAA ombudsman’s office is within the Office of the Attorney General.

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  • Maryland

    The Office of the Attorney General (“OAG”) provides staff for the OMCB and works with the OMBC to train staff members and attorneys of public bodies and local government associations. §§ 3-203(d), 3-204(d). The staff and attorneys provided to the OMCB are housed in the Opinions and Advice Division of the OAG. OMA Manual, at 7-10. The OAG hosts a website dedicated to open meetings that includes the text of the Act, frequently asked questions, a compliance checklist, and training/educational resources. Id., at 7-11. The OMCB’s meeting notices and related documents, complaint and response procedures, and opinions are also available at the website: http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/OpenGov/Openmeetings/default.aspx.

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  • Nebraska

    The county attorney for the county in which the public body meets and the Nebraska Attorney General "shall enforce the provisions of" the Open Meetings Act. Neb. Rev. Stat. §84-1414(2). There is no specific enforcement procedure stated. A letter informing the county attorney or attorney general of violations should be sufficient.

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  • New Mexico

    State Attorney General and the district attorney shall enforce the Open Meetings Act.  NMSA 1978 § 10-15-3(B).  As a practical matter, the Attorney General will address violations by writing letters and requesting compliance.  Criminal charges are rare, occurring once in 1976 and once in 2002.

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  • North Carolina

    North Carolina citizens faced with an apparent violation of the Open Meetings Law sometimes seek informal assistance from the state attorney general. While such a course may be helpful, particularly in the case of a glaring or flagrant violation, it more often proves to be of little or no utility. In the first place, the attorney general has no authority to issue “rulings” relating to the Open Meetings Law; the attorney general merely issues opinions, which have no greater force of law than the opinions of any other attorney. Moreover, the North Carolina Attorney General issues formal, written opinions only in response to formal requests from public officials or public employees.

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  • North Dakota

    Any interested person may request an attorney general’s opinion to review an alleged violation of the open meetings law, including the denial of access to a meeting. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1). The request must be made within thirty days of the alleged violation, except that a request based on allegations that a meeting occurred without the required notice must be made within ninety days of the alleged violation. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1). N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1. The attorney general may request and obtain information claimed to be exempt or confidential for the purpose of determining whether the information is exempt or confidential. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1). The attorney general must then issue to the public entity involved an opinion on the alleged violation, unless the request is withdrawn by the person requesting the opinion or a civil action has been filed involving the possible violation. N.D.C.C. § 44-04-21.1(1).

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  • Ohio

    The state attorney general's office has no authority to decide disputes between a person seeking access to a meeting and a public body. However, as counsel for state agencies, the Attorney General will advise those agencies about the open meetings statute. As a courtesy, the attorney general's office often has answered questions from persons seeking access.

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  • Oklahoma

    The Attorney General may issue advisory opinions upon questions of law submitted by certain state officials. 74 O.S. §§ 18b.(d) and (e). The public officer with notice of the ruling is bound by it until relieved of the ruling by a court of competent jurisdiction. Pan American Petroleum Corp. v. Board of Tax-Rolle Corp., 1973 OK 52, 510 P.2d 680.

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  • Oregon

    A challenge must be brought in circuit court. ORS 192.680.

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  • Rhode Island

    The Attorney General is required to prepare and post in a prominent location in each city and town hall, a notice providing concise information explaining the requirements of the OML and advising citizens of their rights to file complaints for violations of the OML.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-12.

    R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-8 prescribes the procedures for persons aggrieved as a result of violations of the OML.  A citizen of Rhode Island may file a complaint with the Attorney General. As a practical matter, this may be done simply by letter.  The Attorney General must investigate, and may, upon determination that the allegations are meritorious, file a complaint in the Superior Court against the public body.

    It is the official policy of the Attorney General not to issue advisory opinions on the OML.  The Attorney General is authorized to render formal opinions to state departments, boards, commissions and general officers only. As a practical matter, the Attorney General will render informal and unofficial opinions to individuals upon request.

    In practice, the Attorney General has consistently simply requested agency violators to comply with the OML and has refrained from filing complaints, upon noting that the agency was acting in good faith and was not a repeat offender.  See e.g. Op. Att’y Gen., February 25, 1986.

    The Attorney General is required by law to file and submit to the legislature a report each year summarizing the complaints received pursuant to the OML and including information as to how many complaints were found to be meritorious and the action taken in response to those complaints.  R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-11.

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  • South Carolina

    Not an option for review.

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  • South Dakota

    Violation of open meetings law has been a Class 2 misdemeanor for many years, but prosecution has been non-existent. So although a complaint could be filed with the local states attorney, nothing was likely to come of it. Now, however, with the recently established Open Meeting Commission (above), a state’s attorney has three options: 1) prosecuting; 2) finding "no merit to prosecuting" and filing copies of the complaint and any investigative file with the attorney general; 3) deferring to the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission "for further action."

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  • Texas

    The Act does not provide an enforcement role for the Attorney General, but governmental attorneys prosecuting a criminal case under the Act’s provisions may request the Attorney General’s assistance. See Tex. Gov’t Code § 402.028(a).

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  • Utah

    The Open Meetings Act states that the “attorney general and county attorneys of the state shall enforce this chapter.” Utah Code § 52-4-303(1). Historically, however, enforcement of the Open Meetings Act has been an extremely low priority of the Attorney General’s Office and of the County Attorneys. To date, the Attorney General has not brought a single enforcement action.

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  • Vermont

    To date, there have been no enforcement actions brought by the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.  Vermont’s former attorney general repeatedly told reporters during his tenure that he did not feel it was the role of his office to prosecute violations of the Open Meeting Law.  The state’s new attorney general, elected in 2016, seems more inclined to getting involved, however he has not yet brought any enforcement actions.

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  • Virginia

    There is no remedy in Virginia involving petition or appeal to the Attorney General.

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  • West Virginia

    The Open Meetings Act does not provide for any appeal to the state Attorney General, and that office generally will issue a written opinion only upon the request of state department heads, prosecuting attorneys, or certain other public officials. In the case of an impending egregious violation of the Open Meetings Act, it might be possible to obtain an informal ruling from the Attorney General's office or from the public agency's other legal advisor, thereby averting such action.

    West Virginia Code section 6-9A-12 provides:

    It is the duty of the attorney general to compile the statutory and case law pertaining to this article and to prepare appropriate summaries and interpretations for the purpose of informing all public officials subject to this article of the requirements of this article. It is the duty of the secretary of state, the clerks of the county commissions, joint clerks of the county commissions and circuit courts, if any, and the city clerks or recorders of the municipalities of the state to provide a copy of the material compiled by the attorney general to all elected public officials within their respective jurisdictions. The clerks or recorders will make the material available to appointed public officials. Likewise, it is their respective duties to provide a copy or summary to any newly appointed or elected person within thirty days of the elected or appointed official taking the oath of office or an appointed person's start of term.

    Copies of the Office of Attorney General's compilation of the statutory and case law as well as the required summaries and interpretations should be available upon request by that office. (304-558-2021). Moreover, specific duties are imposed on the Attorney General to assist state and municipal government bodies and officials in achieving compliance with that statute. W. Va. Code § 6-9A-12. The Web site of the Office of the Attorney General provides access to  a summary of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act: https://ago.wv.gov/publicresources/Documents/2017-3-10%20Open%20Meetings%20Booklet%20(Q0236711xD6D48).pdf.

    West Virginia Code section 6-9A-11 requires the West Virginia Ethics Commission to rule on requests for advisory opinions regarding interpretations of that statute. Any person subject to the provisions of the Act may request an opinion concerning his or her own conduct. This includes an elected or appointed public official or a public employee of State, county or local government. An individual may inquire as to whether she or he is subject to the Ethics Act. The Commission will not respond to requests for written advice on the propriety of someone else’s conduct. Moreover, the identity of the requester will not be disclosed in the Commission’s written opinion.

    Information relating to such advisory opinions are available online at: http://www.ethics.wv.gov/advisoryopinion/Pages/default.aspx. Any governing body or member thereof subject to the law may seek advice and information from the executive director of the West Virginia ethics commission or request in writing an advisory opinion from the West Virginia Ethics Commission Committee on Open Governmental Meetings as to whether an action or proposed action violates the law. Requests for a formal advisory opinion must be submitted to the West Virginia Ethics Commission in writing at 210 Brooks St., Charleston, WV 25301, Phone (304) 558-0664, WV Toll Free 1-866-558-0664, Fax (304) 558-2169. The letter should contain a complete statement of the facts, including your name, your official position, a brief description of the powers of your agency, commission or office and the nature of the issue.

    The members of the Commission will review your letter, but their deliberations and written response will not disclose your name or the identity of your specific public entity.

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  • Wyoming

    Certain public officials and entities may seek opinions from the Attorney General, but not members of the general public.

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