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C. What bodies are covered by the law?

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  • Arizona

    The Arizona OML applies to “any public body.”  A.R.S. § 38-431.01(A).

    “Public body” is defined as:

    [T]he legislature, all boards and commissions of this state or political subdivisions, all multimember governing bodies of departments, agencies, institutions and instrumentalities of the state or political subdivisions, including without limitation all corporations and other instrumentalities whose boards of directors are appointed or elected by the state or political subdivision.  Public body includes all quasi-judicial bodies and all standing, special or advisory committees or subcommittees of, or appointed by, the public body.

    A.R.S. § 38-431(6).  What constitutes a “public body” is fairly expansive and may turn on unique facts or circumstances.  For example, what constitutes “institutions and instrumentalities of this state or political subdivision” might depend heavily on the relationship between the body and the political subdivision.

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  • Arkansas

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Connecticut

    FOIA applies to public agencies as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-200(1). See Records Outline at I.B.

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  • Delaware

    FOIA defines "public body" to include any "executive body" or "committee" of, or "advisory board" to, any executive body "established by an act of the General Assembly of the State, or established by any body established by the General Assembly of the State, or appointed by any body or public official of the State or otherwise empowered by any state governmental entity." 29 Del. C. § 10002(c); see also Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 02-ib19 (Aug. 19, 2002) (informal monthly meeting of one or two representatives from each of six school districts constitutes a "public body" for purposes of FOIA). The open meeting requirements of FOIA, however, do not apply to "[p]ublic bodies having only 1 member." 29 Del. C. § 10004(h)(6). See, e.g., Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 01-ib15 (Oct. 23, 2001) (holding the open meeting laws do not apply to the County Administrator because he is a "body of one.") A "committee" may be a "public body" for purposes of FOIA if it is "established by an act of the General Assembly of the State, or established by any body established by the General Assembly of the State, or appointed by any body or public official of the State . . . to advise or to make reports, investigations or recommendations." 29 Del. C. § 10002(c); Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 01-ib15 (Oct. 23, 2001). When an executive body of one exercises his or her decision-making authority, the open meeting requirements of FOIA usually do not apply to fact-finding discussions with staff. Del. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 01-ib15 (Oct. 23, 2001). Where, however, an executive official delegates any of his or her decision-making authority to a group of individuals, FOIA might apply because the group may amount to a "committee" appointed by an executive body. Id.

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  • District of Columbia

    The Open Meetings Act provides that "[a]ll meetings (including hearings) of any department, agency, board or commission of the District government, including meetings of the Council of the District of Columbia, at which official action of any kind is taken shall be open to the public." D.C. Code Ann. § 1-207.42(a).  "Meeting" is defined as "any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body…at which the members consider, conduct, or advise on public business, including gathering information, taking testimony, discussing, deliberating, recommending, and voting, regardless of whether held in person, by telephone, electronically, or by other means of communication."  Id. § 2-573(1).  The Act then defines "public body" to include only the boards that supervise or control agencies and the boards of directors of instrumentalities, and to exclude any District agency or instrumentality itself.  D.C. Code Ann. § 2-573(3).

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  • Georgia

    The Act applies to “nearly every group that performs any function of a government entity.” Office of the Attorney General, Georgia’s Sunshine Laws (2014) at 7-8 [available online at https://law.georgia.gov/document/publication/citizens-guide-open-government/download]. For example, city councils; county commissions; regional development authorities; library boards; school boards; commissions or authorities, such as hospital authorities, established by state or local governments; planning commissions; zoning boards; most committees of the University System of Georgia (such as those involving grievances, disciplinary matters, athletic matters and other student-related matters not specifically related to education); and non-profit corporations operating public hospitals. Id.

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  • Hawaii

    The Sunshine Law applies to all "boards" when they conduct "meetings." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-3 ("[e]very meeting of all boards shall be open to the public"). Accordingly, a two-part test will reveal whether the law applies to a particular board on a particular occasion. First, is the body a "board" as defined by the statute? If not, the law does not apply. If so, is the board conducting a "meeting" as defined by the statute? If not, the law does not apply.

    Such a test helps to explain determinations that the law applies to deliberative committees or subgroups appointed by a government entity pursuant to authority embodied in a state statute but not to individual technical consultants denominated in groups as "subcommittees" of the advisory committee when these subcommittees never met or operated as deliberative bodies. Applicability of State Sunshine Law to Dep't of Agric.'s Advisory Comm. on Plants and Animals and Subcomms., Att'y Gen. Op. No. 90-7 (Sept. 12, 1990).

    The law defines "meeting" as "the convening of a board for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision upon a matter over which the board has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power." Haw. Rev. Stat. § 92-2. An agency retreat is a meeting. Applicability of Pt. I, ch. 92, Haw. Rev. Stat., to a Private "Retreat" of OHA Trustees, Att'y Gen. Op. No. 86-19 (Sept. 2, 1986) (holding that "retreat" is synonymous with "meeting" under the Sunshine Law). Despite negative implications from the language of the statute, the fact that a quorum may not be required for a "retreat" or meeting does not alter the need to comply with the Sunshine Laws when agency deliberations or decisions are to take place. Id. (relying on Section 92-5(b) prohibiting use of chance meetings to circumvent spirit of law).

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  • Illinois

    The Act defines public bodies as "all legislative, executive, administrative or advisory bodies of the State, counties, townships, cities, villages, incorporated towns, school districts and all other municipal corporations, boards, bureaus, committees or commissions of [Illinois], and any subsidiary bodies of any of the foregoing." 5 ILCS 120/1.02. Subsidiary bodies include (but are not limited to) committees and subcommittees that are supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, or that expend tax revenue, except the General Assembly and its committees or commissions. The Act specifies that the term "public body" includes “tourism boards and convention or civic center boards located in counties that are contiguous to the Mississippi River with populations of more than 250,000 but less than 300,000.” The term "public body," however, does not include a child death review team or the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council established under the Child Death Review Team Act or an ethics commission acting under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

    Inclusion within the definition of "public body" depends primarily upon organizational structure. See Board of Regents v. Reynard, 292 Ill. App. 3d 968, 977, 686 N.E.2d 1222, 1228, 227 Ill. Dec. 66, 72 (4th Dist. 1997). Factors to be considered in determining whether an entity is a public body include: (1) who appoints the members of the entity; (2) the formality of the members' appointments and whether they are paid for their tenure; (3) the entity's assigned duties, including duties reflected in the entity's bylaws or authorizing statute; (4) whether its role is solely advisory or whether it also has a deliberative or investigative function; (5) whether the entity is subject to government control or otherwise accountable to any public body; (6) whether the group has a budget; (7) its place within the larger organization or institution of which it is a part; and (8) the impact of decisions or recommendations that the group makes. University Professionals v. Stukel, 344 Ill. App. 3d 856, 865, 801 N.E.2d 1054, 1062, 280 Ill. Dec. 109, 117 (1st Dist. 2003).

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  • Indiana

    The Open Door Law applies to “all meetings of the governing bodies of public agencies.” Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-3(a). What constitutes a “public agency” is explained in Indiana Code Section 5-14-1.5-2(a), and what constitutes a “governing body” is explained in Indiana Code Section 5-14-1.5-2(b). See also Indiana State Bd. of Health v. Journal-Gazette Co., 608 N.E.2d 989, 993 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993) (holding that “the informal reconsideration meeting was not one conducted by any “governing body” of the Indiana State Department of Health, nor was it a meeting of any advisory committee directly appointed by the ISBH”); Frye v. Vigo Cnty., 769 N.E.2d 188, 196 (Ind. Ct. App. 2002) (holding that the Grievance Panel was not appointed directly by the County Commissioners, so it was not subject to the Open Door Law); Citizens Acton Coalition of Indiana Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm’n of Indiana, 425 N.E.2d 178, 185 (Ind. Ct. App. 1981) (holding that the Public Service Commission is subject to the Open Door Law, even though it exercises quasi-judicial functions).

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  • Iowa

    Iowa Code § 21.2(10) defines “government body” as including a “multimembered body formally and directly created by one or more boards . . . .”  Iowa Code § 21.2(1)(c) extends the statutory meaning of “government body” to committees of a board if they are “formally and directly created.”

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  • Kansas

    “[A]ll meetings for the conduct of the affairs of, and the transaction of business by, all legislative and administrative bodies and agencies of the state and political and taxing subdivisions” of the state of Kansas, “including boards, commissions, authorities, councils, committees, subcommittees and other subordinate groups thereof, receiving or expending and supported in whole or in part by public funds shall be open to the public.”  K.S.A. 75-4318(a).

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  • Kentucky

    Ky. Rev. Stat. 61.805(2)(a) through (h) contains the various definitions of “public agencies” which are subject to the Open Meetings Act. Generally, the governing bodies of all state and local government agencies covered by the Act.

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  • Maryland

    As a general rule, all "public bodies" are subject to the Act. § 3-301. A public body is defined as an entity that consists of two or more individuals and is created by the Maryland Constitution, state statute, county charter, ordinance, rule, resolution or bylaw, executive order of the Governor, or executive order of the chief executive of a political subdivision of the State. § 3-101(h)(1). A public body also includes any multimember board, commission, or committee appointed by the Governor or the chief executive authority of a political subdivision of the State, if the entity includes in its membership at least two individuals who are not employed by either the State or political subdivision of the State. § 3-101(h)(2). Additionally, any multimember boards, commissions or committees appointed by an entity in the Executive Branch of the State government, with its members appointed by the Governor, or by an official who is subject to the policy direction of such entity, is also a public body, so long as its members include at least two individuals who are not members of the appointing entity or employed by the State.  § 3-301(h)(2)(ii).

    However, the Act's scope is narrowed to exclude those public bodies that are carrying out executive, judicial, or quasi-judicial functions, unless the meeting concerns granting permits or licenses or the consideration of zoning matters. § 3-103(a)(1). Chance meetings, social gatherings, "or other occasion[s] . . . not intended to circumvent [the Act]" are also expressly excluded from its coverage. § 3-103(a)(2).

    Once it is determined whether or not an entity is a public body for the purposes of the Act, it matters little where among the branches of government an entity resides. Rather, the Act's applicability depends on the function that the entity is performing when holding a meeting. See Board of County Comm'rs v. Landmark Community Newspapers, 293 Md. 595, 602-05, 446 A.2d 63 (1982). Prior to the 1991 amendment, the Act required open meetings for public bodies engaged in legislative, quasi-legislative or advisory functions. Md. Code Ann., State Gov't § 10-505 (1984) (repealed 1992). The new language simply states that "[e]xcept as otherwise expressly provided . . . a public body shall meet in open session." § 3-301. However, the current version, like the repealed version, makes the Act inapplicable to public bodies that are carrying out administrative, judicial, or quasi-judicial functions. § 3-103(a)(1).

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  • Michigan

    "All meetings of a public body" are to be open to the public. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.263(l). A "public body" is defined as:

    [A]ny state or local legislative or governing body, including a board, commission, committee, subcommittee, authority, or council, which is empowered by state constitution, statute, charter, ordinance, resolution, or rule to exercise governmental or proprietary authority or perform a governmental or proprietary function, or a lessee there of performing an essential public purpose and function pursuant to the lease agreement.

    Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 15.262(a).

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  • Nevada

    A public body must consist of more than two persons and be connected to state or local government. NRS 241.015(4). A public body is specifically defined by NRS 241.015(4) as:

     

    (a) Any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the State or a local government consisting of at least two persons which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue or which advises or makes recommendations to any entity which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue, including, but not limited to, any board, commission, committee, subcommittee or other subsidiary thereof and includes an educational foundation as defined in subsection 3 of NRS 388.750 and a university foundation as defined in subsection 3 of NRS 396.405, if the administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body is created by:

    (1) The Constitution of this State;

    (2) Any statute of this State;

    (3) A city charter and any city ordinance which has been filed or recorded as required by the applicable law;

    (4) The Nevada Administrative Code;

    (5) A resolution or other formal designation by such a body created by a statute of this State or an ordinance of a local government;

    (6) An executive order issued by the Governor; or

    (7) A resolution or an action by the governing body of a political subdivision of this State;

    (b) Any board, commission or committee consisting of at least two persons appointed by:

    (1) The Governor or a public officer who is under the direction of the Governor, if the board, commission or committee has at least two members who are not employees of the Executive Department of the State Government;

    (2) An entity in the Executive Department of the State Government consisting of members appointed by the Governor, if the board, commission or committee otherwise meets the definition of a public body pursuant to this subsection; or

    (3) A public officer who is under the direction of an agency or other entity in the Executive Department of the State Government consisting of members appointed by the Governor, if the board, commission or committee has at least two members who are not employed by the public officer or entity; and

    (c) A limited-purpose association that is created for a rural agricultural residential common-interest community as defined in subsection 6 of NRS 116.1201.

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  • New Hampshire

    The Statute applies to public agencies and public bodies, defined terms under RSA 91-A:1-a, V and VI.  A “public agency” covers “any agency, authority, department, or office of the state or of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision.” A Public body” includes: “(1) The general court including executive sessions of committees; and including any advisory committee established by the general court.  (2) The executive council and the governor with the executive council; including any advisory committee established by the governor by executive order or by the executive council.  (3) Any board or commission of any state agency or authority, including the board of trustees of the university system of New Hampshire and any committee, advisory or otherwise, established by such entities.  (4) Any legislative body, governing body, board, commission, committee, agency, or authority of any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, chartered public school, or other political subdivision, or any committee, subcommittee, or subordinate body thereof, or advisory committee thereto.  (5) Any corporation that has as its sole member the state of New Hampshire, any county, town, municipal corporation, school district, school administrative unit, village district, or other political subdivision, and that is determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be a tax exempt organization pursuant to section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.”

    Under RSA 91-A:1-a,I an “advisory committee” is “any committee, council, commission, or other like body whose primary purpose is to consider an issue or issues designated by the appointing authority so as to provide such authority with advice or recommendations concerning the formulation of any public policy or legislation that may be promoted, modified, or opposed by such authority.”

    The Supreme Court has ruled the some Quasi-public entities are subject to the Statute. See, e. g., Professional firefighters of New Hampshire v. HealthTrust, Inc., 151 N.H. 501 (2004).

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  • North Carolina

    G.S. § 143-318.10(b) defines “public bodies” as follows:

    A public body is an elected or appointed body (i) with two or more members that (ii) exercises a legislative policy-making, quasi-judicial, administrative, or advisory function. Any group that carries out activities on behalf of a public body or advises a public body is treated as a public body for the purposes of the Open Meetings Law. A public body may not delegate responsibility to private entities and thereby avoid performing public functions in a public manner.
    A committee of a public body is a public body. If a board qualifies as a public body under the basic definition and if that board has committees composed of its own members, those committees are fully public.
    “Constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina” are subject to the Open Meetings Law.
    If the local government has outstanding debt for the hospital or if the local government appropriates funds to support the hospital, then the governing board of that hospital (and any subdivision thereof) is a public body. If a non-profit corporation agrees to operate the hospital as a community general hospital, the hospital’s governing board is a public body.

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  • North Dakota

    The following bodies are expressly covered by the law:

    a. Public or governmental bodies, boards, bureaus, commissions, or agencies of the state, including any entity created or recognized by the Constitution of North Dakota, state statute, or executive order of the governor or any task force or working group created by the individual in charge of a state agency or institution, to exercise public authority or perform a governmental function;

    b. Public or governmental bodies, boards, bureaus, commissions, or agencies of any political subdivision of the state and any entity created or recognized by the Constitution of North Dakota, state statute, executive order of the governor, resolution, ordinance, rule, bylaw, or executive order of the chief executive authority of a political subdivision of the state to exercise public authority or perform a governmental function; and

    c. Organizations or agencies supported in whole or in part by public funds, or expending public funds.

    N.D.C.C. § 44-04-17.1(13).

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  • Ohio

    (This section is blank. See the subpoints below.)

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  • Oregon

    All “governing bodies” are covered. Governing body “means the members of any public body which consists of two or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration.” ORS 192.610(3). See Tri-Cty. Metro. Transp. Dist. of Oregon TriMet v. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, 362 Or. 484, 488 (2018) (“The Public Meetings Law regulates the decision-making process of ‘governing bod[ies]’ and ‘public bod[ies].’”).

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  • Pennsylvania

    The Sunshine Act generally covers all legislative and executive agencies at the state, county and municipal levels. 65 Pa. C.S.A. § 703. Specifically, it covers the body, and all committees thereof authorized by the body to take official action or render advice on matters of agency business of all the following: the General Assembly; the executive branch of the government, including the Governor’s Cabinet when meeting on official policymaking business; any board, council, authority or commission of the Commonwealth or of any political subdivision of the Commonwealth; or any state, municipal, township or school authority, school board, school governing body, commission, the boards of trustees of all state-aided colleges and universities, the councils of trustees of all state-owned colleges and universities, the boards of trustees of all state-related universities and all community colleges; or similar organizations created by or pursuant to a statute which declares in substance that the organization performs, or has for its purpose the performance of, any governmental function and through the joint action of its members exercises governmental authority and takes official action. Id.

    The term does not include a caucus nor a meeting of an ethics committee created under rules of the Senate or House of Representatives. 65 Pa. C.S.A. § 712.

    The term was recently amended to also include the governing board of any nonprofit corporation which by a mutually binding legal written agreement with a community college or State-aided, State-owned or State-related institution of higher education is granted legally enforceable supervisory and advisory powers regarding the degree programs of the institution of higher education. 65 Pa. C.S.A. § 703.

    See, e.g., Soc’y Hill Civic Ass’n v. Phila. Bd. of License & Inspection Review, 905 A.2d 579 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2006) (City Board of License and Inspection Review was created as a quasi-judicial body that performs fact-finding and deliberative functions and thus is subject to the Sunshine Act).

    Note:  The new Right to Know Law broadened the reach of the act to all organizations who contract to perform any governmental function.  See, e.g., SWB Yankees LLC v. Gretchen Wintermantel, 999 A.2d 672 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010) (“an authority clearly created for the benefit of the people of the Commonwealth, and for the increase of their commerce and prosperity . . . puts a third party in the same position as an agency for purposes of the RTKL””) allocatur denied, 610 Pa. 291 (Pa. 2011); E. Stroudsburg Univ. Found. v. Office of Open Records, 995 A.2d 49 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2010).

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  • Rhode Island

    The OML applies to meetings of all public bodies, which are defined as “any department, agency, commission, committee, board, council, bureau, or authority or any subdivision thereof of state or municipal government,” and shall include all authorities defined in R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-1(2). R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-46-2(3). However, any political party, organization, or unit thereof meeting or convening is not and should not be considered to be a public body.  Id.

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  • South Carolina

    "Public bodies" which are defined in the act as any public or governmental body or political subdivision of the state and entities supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds. S.C. Code Ann. § 30-4-20(a).

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  • Tennessee

    The Act applies to any member of any governing body. "Governing body" is defined as "members of any public body which consists of two (2) or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration and also means a community action agency which administers community action programs under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 2790." T.C.A. § 8-44-102(b). Specifically excluded from the ambit of "governing body" are administrative officers who do not formulate policies for a governing body. Fain v. Faculty of the College of Law of the University of Tennessee, 552 S.W.2d 752 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1977) (holding that law school dean was not a governing body and faculty and committee meetings of law school were not subject to the Act); Mid-South Publishing Co. v. The Tennessee State University, 1990 WL 207410 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1990) (holding that university chancellor was not governing body and that his meetings with advisory committee were not subject to the Act).

    The Act does not define the term "member." According to an Attorney General opinion, an individual becomes a member of a governing body when he or she has completed all the requirements necessary to qualify to perform the official duties of a member and his or her term of office has begun. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 99-043 (Feb. 25, 1998). More specifically, in the case of an elected official, the electee is not qualified to serve until his or her term has begun and he or she has taken the oath of office. Id. (holding that meetings of the Memphis Center City Development Corporation are subject to the Act). A governing body also specifically includes any nonprofit corporation authorized by state law to act on behalf of any local government other than Nashville for the purpose of Resource Recovery and Solid Waste Disposal or Energy Production Facilities. T.C.A. § 8-44-102(b)(1)(C).

    Also, the Act provides that it applies to the board of directors of any non-profit corporation that provides Nashville with heat, steam or incineration of refuse, T.C.A. § 8-44-102(b)(1)(D), or the board of directors of any non-profit corporation or association authorized to obtain coverage for government employees in the Tennessee consolidated retirement system. T.C.A. § 8-44-102(b)(1)(E).

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  • Texas

    The Act applies to “[e]very regular, special, or called meeting of a governmental body.” Tex. Gov’t Code § 551.002. The term “governmental body” includes:

    (A) a board, commission, department, committee, or agency within the executive or legislative branch of state government that is directed by one or more elected or appointed members;

    (B) a county commissioners court in the state;

    (C) a municipal governing body in the state;

    (D) a deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a county or municipality;

    (E) a school district board of trustees;

    (F) a county board of school trustees;

    (G) a county board of education;

    (H) the governing board of a special district created by law;

    (I) a local workforce development board created under Section 2308.253;

    (J) a nonprofit corporation that is eligible to receive funds under the federal community services block grant program and that is authorized by this state to serve a geographic area of the state; and

    (K) a nonprofit corporation organized under Chapter 67, Water Code, that provides a water supply or wastewater service, or both, and is exempt from ad valorem taxation under Section 11.30, Tax Code; and

    (L) a joint board created under Section 22.074, Transportation Code.

    Id. at § 551.001(3).

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  • West Virginia

    The Open Meetings Act applies to the meetings of every "governing body" of "any public agency." W. Va. Code § 6-9 A-2 (3). The 1999 amendments to the Open Meetings Act replaced the term "public body" with "public agency." A public agency is defined as follows:

    [A]ny administrative or legislative unit of state, county or municipal government, including any department, division, bureau, office, commission, authority, board, public corporation, section, committee, subcommittee or any other agency or subunit of the foregoing, authorized by law to exercise some portion of executive or legislative power. The term "public agency" does not include courts created by article eight of the West Virginia constitution or the system of family law masters created by article four [§§ 48A-4-1 et seq., repealed], chapter forty-eight-a of this code.

    W. Va. Code § 6-9A-2(6). (The 1978 amendment to this statute removed "any political party executive committee" from the definition of "public body.") See Hamrick v. Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc., 220 W. Va. 495, 499, 648 S.E.2d 1, 5 (W. Va. 2007). In Hamrick, the West Virginia Court stated that the “1999 changes to the definitional section of the Open Government Act changed the term “public body” to “public agency;” this change does not seem to have made any substantive difference.”  Id.

    A "governing body" consists of "the members of any public agency having the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public agency on policy or administration, the membership of a governing body consists of two or more members." W. Va. Code § 6-9A-2(3).

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