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G. Gifts, trusts and honorary degrees

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  • Alabama

    We know of no authority under state law to close a meeting that is otherwise due to be open simply because the meeting deals with gifts, trusts, and honorary degrees, except to the extent the discussion falls within the reputation, character, and competence exception to the Alabama Open Meetings Act. Ala. Code § 36-25A-7(a)(1) et seq.; see also Auburn Univ. v. The Advertiser Co. d/b/a The Montgomery Advertiser, 867 So. 2d 293 (Ala. 2003) (holding that discussion of awarding honorary degree was within "character and good name" exception of former open meetings law).

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  • Alaska

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Arizona

    Discussions by a public body should fall under OML.

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  • Arkansas

    Because these matters are not exempted by statute, the meeting must be open to the public. However, the FOIA’s open meetings requirement generally applies only to a “governing body” of an entity subject to the act. Thus, if a state university planned to award an honorary degree, a meeting of administrators to consider the issue and make a recommendation to the university president would not be open to the public, since the administrators do not constitute a governing body.

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  • California

    Under the Bagley-Keene Act, a body may meet in a closed session when the donor or proposed donor has requested in writing that the matter be kept confidential. Cal. Gov't Code § 11126(c)(5).

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  • Colorado

    Open, unless the donor requests an executive session. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-6-402(3)(a)(I).

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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

    Meetings regarding charitable contributions and the like may not be open. See 29 Del. C. § 10004(b)(5).

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  • District of Columbia

    A meeting, or portion of a meeting, may be closed to prevent premature disclosure of an honorary degree, scholarship, prize, or similar award.  D.C. Code Ann. § 2-575(b)(7).

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  • Florida

    There is no Florida law governing the relationship between the open meetings requirement of section 286.011 and gifts, trusts, and honorary degrees.

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  • Georgia

    The Act has no exemption for discussions of gifts, trusts or honorary degrees.

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  • Hawaii

    There are currently no cases addressing this point. Meetings are presumably open.

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  • Idaho

    Not specified.

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  • Illinois

    No exemption addresses these topics specifically, so they are presumably open.

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  • Indiana

    Unless authorized by a federal statute or other state statute, see Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-1; § 5-14-1.5-6.1(b)(7), or unless the meeting fits into the general categories of executive sessions in Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-6.1(b), meetings regarding gifts, trusts, and honorary degrees must be open to the public. Note that the identity of a donor in a record may be exempt from the Access to Public Records Act. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-1(b)(15).

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  • Iowa

    No provision of the open meetings statute exempts discussion of gifts, trusts and honorary degrees from public attendance. Iowa Code chapter 68B requires the preparation of disclosure reports. See Iowa Code § 68B.2 (“‘Public disclosure’ means a written report filed by a person as required by this chapter or required by rules adopted and issued pursuant to this chapter.”); Iowa Code § 68B.22 (noting reporting requirements for specific gifts); Iowa Code § 68B.35A (requiring personal financial disclosure filed with the chief clerk of the house or the secretary of the senate to be recorded on the legislative internet site); Iowa Code § 68B.39 (authorizing the supreme court to prescribe rules relating to the receipt or acceptance of gifts financial disclosure).

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  • Kansas

    Not addressed by Kansas law.

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  • Kentucky

    Presumptively open.

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  • Maine

    Open to the public.

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  • Maryland

    The Act does not provide an exemption for meetings within this category.

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  • Massachusetts

    Not specifically covered in statute. Normally open. However, most Massachusetts universities are private and not subject to the Open Meeting Law.

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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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  • Montana

    Not a basis for closing a meeting.

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  • Nebraska

    No specific exemption.

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  • New Hampshire

    Subject to the Statute.

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  • New Jersey

    Discussions by a public body regarding these subjects may fall within the "invasion of individual privacy" exception and arguably can be held in closed session. See N.J.S.A. 10:4-12b(3).

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  • New Mexico

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • New York

    Burgher v. Purcell, 87 A.D.2d 888, 449 N.Y.S.2d 527 (2d Dep’t 1982) (the OML’s term “public body” includes trustees appointed by town supervisor to administer a testamentary trust for the town’s poor).

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  • North Carolina

    Public bodies may meet in closed session to “consider and authorize” the acceptance of certain gifts, and to choose the recipients of honors, awards, honorary degrees, and the like. G.S. § 143-318.11(a)(2).

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  • Ohio

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

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  • Oklahoma

    Public trusts must comply with the act. 1981 OK AG 109.

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  • Oregon

    If any such matter involves records subject to exemption, they may be discussed in executive session.

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  • Rhode Island

    No specific exemption.

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  • South Carolina

    There is no exemption for these matters as meetings.

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  • Tennessee

    Presumably open, but such discussions are not addressed in the Act.

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  • Texas

    Section 551.073 permits meetings to be closed regarding a "negotiated contract for a prospective gift or donation to the state or the governmental body if deliberation in an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the position of the governmental body in negotiations with a third person."

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  • Utah

    The Open Meetings Act contains no provision that would allow meetings concerning these topics to be closed. However, the Government Records Access and Management Act (discussed in the Open Records portion of this outline) classifies as protected the names of the donors to public institutions of higher education, if so requested. Utah Code § 63G-2-305(37).

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  • Virginia

    Discussion by boards of visitors of state institutions of higher education, of matters relating to gifts, bequests and fundraising activities, and grants or contracts for services or work to be performed by such institution may be closed. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3711.A.9.

    Discussion by boards of trustees of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of Natural History, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the Science Museum of Virginia may be closed when considering matters relating to specific gifts, bequests, and grants. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3711.A.10.

    Discussion of honorary degrees or special awards may be closed. Va. Code Ann. § 2.2-3711.A.11.

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  • Washington

    No limitation; such discussions should be open.

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  • West Virginia

    The 1999 amendments to the Open Meetings Act permit executive sessions to "avoid the premature disclosure of an honorary degree, scholarship, prize or similar award." W. Va. Code § 6-9A-4(10).

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  • Wyoming

    A governing body may meet in executive sessions to accept an anonymous gift.

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