- May a three-member governing body meet with staff in carrying out its administrative functions, without complying with all the notice and other requirements of the Public Meetings Law?
- As a member of a three-member governing body, must I notify the press and public and arrange for their attendance every time I drop into a colleague’s office or make a telephone call to another member?
- Is a “retreat” of a governing body subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- What about a “retreat” for other employees and administrators of the public body attended by members of the governing body?
- May a quorum of members of a governing body participate in a “community retreat” sponsored by a chamber of commerce?
- What is a quorum?
- Is an on-site inspection subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- Does the Public Meetings Law apply to a chamber of commerce?
- Is a people’s utility district board subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- How about an electric cooperative?
- How about a nonprofit corporation that receives all of its funds from the state or local government?
- Are homeowners associations and rental associations subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- Are neighborhood associations subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- Is an administrative hearing subject to the Public Meetings Law?
- Does the Public Meetings Law apply to the Oregon legislature?
- How far in advance must a public body give notice of its regular meetings?
- Is a notice posted solely on a bulletin board sufficient?
- Must meeting notices be published as legal notices?
- Does the Public Meetings Law notice requirement require the purchase of advertising?
- May a governing body issue a single notice for a “continuous session” that may last for several days?
- Must a notice be provided for a meeting that is exclusively an executive session?
- Is a media request to receive notice of any meetings sufficient to require notice of special and emergency meetings?
- If a news organization requests notice of meetings, is it sufficient for that notice to be mailed “general delivery” to that news organization?
- Is a meeting without proper notice an illegal meeting?
- Must a governing body notify the public when a meeting has been cancelled, for example, when bad weather requires a last-minute cancellation?
- May governing bodies hold public meetings at a location outside of the geographic boundaries of their jurisdiction if there is no appropriate meeting site within their geographic boundaries?
- If during an executive session, the members of the governing body discuss matters outside its proper scope, what is the proper role of media representatives present? May they begin taking notes?
- May a governing body restrict the number of media representatives attending an executive session?
- May a reporter who has a personal stake in a matter be excluded from an executive session?
- May a governing body reviewing or evaluating a public employee’s performance in executive session exclude the employee from attending?
- Must reporters be permitted access to executive sessions conducted by electronic conference?
- May a governing body reach a decision in an executive session?
- What if the decision is to take no action? For example, a complaint with respect to a public official, informally concluded to be without sufficient merit to warrant discipline?
- If a city council meets in executive session to discuss litigation, must the council meet in public session to vote to file a lawsuit or appeal?
- Is smoking prohibited at an executive sessions?
- May I tape record a public meeting?
- Must I inform the governing body before I tape record?
- May a public body refuse to use a microphone during its public meetings?
- Does the Public Meetings Law grant me the right to testify before a public body?
- May a person who has disrupted prior meetings, assaulted board members, etc., be excluded from a public meeting?
- Are written minutes required?
- What do I do when a public body’s minutes are inconsistent with the notes I took during a meeting?
- How can a suit be filed for a meetings violation?
If the governing body is meeting in order to obtain information on which it later will deliberate, or to deliberate or decide on substantive matters, it must comply with the notice, public attendance, and recordkeeping requirements of the Public Meetings Law.
As a member of a three-member governing body, must I notify the press and public and arrange for their attendance every time I drop into a colleague’s office or make a telephone call to another member?
Yes, if you discuss the business of the governing body. The law requires that the public have access to any meeting of a quorum of a governing body of a public body when the governing body meets to gather information on which it will later deliberate, or to deliberate or make a decision on any matter of policy or administration.
A. The answer depends on the matters discussed at the retreat. If the retreat is confined, for instance, to general principles of decision-making or personal interaction, the Public Meetings Law would not apply. However, if at the retreat the governing body deliberates toward or makes a decision on official business, or gathers information on which it later will deliberate, the meetings law applies. In addition, any retreat or training session that includes deliberations must be held inside the governing body’s jurisdiction.
Such a “retreat” can be organized to avoid the meeting of a quorum of the governing body for the purpose of gathering information or deliberating toward decisions on matters within their responsibility, in which case the meetings law would not apply. However, it also is very easy for information gathering or policy deliberations by members of the governing body to occur, in violation of the Public Meetings Law.
Yes, so long as they avoid getting together as a group for any deliberations.
The Public Meetings Law does not define quorum. It may be defined by city charter, rules of order, or some other source. Absent other controlling authority, a quorum is a majority of a governing body’s members. Even if a group decides to operate by consensus, the meetings law will apply if a quorum of the group’s members are needed for the body to make a decision or recommendation. See also discussion of Quorum in Appendix K.
No. On-site inspections are not “meetings” subject to the meetings law. However, a quorum of the governing body should be careful not to decide on or deliberate towards any decision while attending an inspection.
No. That is a private body.
No, unless it is formally acting as an advisory body to a public body or is required by contract to open its meetings. If the corporation is the “functional equivalent” of a public body, it may also be subject to the Public Meetings Law.
It depends on whether the particular neighborhood association is a “governing body of a public body.” Determining whether a neighborhood association is subject to the Public Meetings Law requires an analysis of several factors, including the specific responsibilities and authority of that particular neighborhood association.
Notwithstanding the analysis under the Public Meetings Law, some cities require, as a condition of their recognition of a neighborhood association, that neighborhood association meetings be open to the public.
A. The deliberations of state agencies conducting contested cases in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, and of several specifically named agencies, are exempt from the meetings law. However, the information-gathering portions of the contested cases are subject to the meetings law if conducted by a governing body. Proceedings in the nature of contested cases conducted by local governing bodies are subject to the meetings law. Contested cases conducted by an individual hearings officer are not subject to the law, because a single hearings officer is not a governing body.
The application of the Public Meetings Law to the Legislative Assembly has not been directly addressed in an opinion by the courts or the Attorney General. However, the Oregon Constitution and rules of both chambers require that deliberations of floor sessions and committee meetings, but not caucus sessions, be open to the public and members of the media.
Far enough in advance to reasonably give interested persons actual notice and an opportunity to attend. Because the notice must specify the principal subjects to be covered, it must be given separately for each meeting even though the public and news media know that the body meets, for example, every Wednesday evening.
A. It is not. However, such a notice may be used with news releases and mailing lists to meet the notice requirements.
No, it requires only appropriate notice.
Probably yes, if the body can identify the approximate times that principal subjects will be discussed.
Yes. The notice requirements are the same and must cite the statutory authority for the executive session.
Probably yes, if mailed far enough in advance. It is up to the news organization to establish procedures to ensure that the proper person receives the notice. For a special or emergency meeting, a telephone call or a fax to a responsible person is advisable.
A meeting without notice violates the Public Meetings Law.
The Public Meetings Law does not require a governing body to notify the public when a meeting has been cancelled. Although not required, it is certainly appropriate for a governing body to notify the public that a meeting has been cancelled when it is feasible to do so.
In addition to holding a meeting within the geographic boundaries of its jurisdiction, a governing body can hold a meeting at the public body’s administrative headquarters, the nearest practical location, or—for county, city, or state public bodies—within Indian country of a federally recognized Oregon Indian tribe that is within the geographic boundaries of Oregon. In certain circumstances, it is possible that the nearest practical location might be outside the governing body’s geographic boundaries. In addition, a meeting may be held in other locations in the event of an actual emergency necessitating immediate action.
A joint meeting of two or more governing bodies or a joint meeting with a federally recognized Oregon Indian tribe must be held within the geographic boundaries of one of the bodies or of a tribe, or at the nearest practical location.
The Public Meetings Law does not prohibit media representatives from taking notes of executive sessions they attend, whether or not the discussion includes matters outside the lawful scope of the executive session. The law merely permits the governing body to require that specified information discussed during executive session not be disclosed. Media representatives may freely disclose matters outside the session’s proper scope. Nonetheless, it always is proper for those representatives politely to call the governing body’s attention to the fact that it has strayed from the specified subject or subjects to be discussed in executive session.
No, except that a reporter who is a party to litigation or who is an employee, agent, or contractor of a news media organization that is a party to litigation, should be excluded from an executive session held to discuss that litigation.
A. If the public employee requests a public session, the meeting must be held in public, and the employee may not be excluded. If the employee makes no such request, then the employee may be excluded. Sufficient advance notice must be given to the employee to allow the employee to choose whether to request a public meeting.
It may not reach a final decision, but it may informally decide or reach consensus. This is proper so long as the body goes into public session to act formally on the matter.
It is appropriate, but probably not required, to announce in public session that the matter was not resolved, that no decision was reached or that in the absence of a motion for action, no action will be taken. If, however, a final “no action” decision is made by vote of a quorum of a governing body, the decision must be made and announced in public session.
Yes. Final decisions must be made in public.
Most likely yes. Whether smoking is prohibited depends on whether the location of the executive session is covered by the Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act.
Yes. You may also videotape a meeting, subject to reasonable rules of the public body to avoid disruption.
No. The criminal prohibition on recording a conversation without notification does not apply to the use of an unconcealed recording device at a public or semipublic meeting.
The meetings law does not specifically address what steps public bodies must take to ensure that the general public can sufficiently monitor public meetings. However, ORS 192.630(5)(a) and the Americans with Disabilities Act impose certain requirements on public bodies to ensure that their communications at public meetings with persons with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.
No, the Public Meetings Law only guarantees the public a right to monitor the meetings of public bodies; it does not grant members of the public the right to interact with public bodies during those meetings.
It is doubtful that a person may be excluded for prior conduct. The person who causes the disruption may be arrested for trespass.
Written minutes or a sound, video, or digital recording is required for any meeting, including an executive session.
You should work directly with the public body to correct discrepancies that you believe exist in the minutes. In so doing, it may be useful to speak with other attendees to determine if your recollection is accurate. In addition, other attendees may be able to lend support if you have difficulty convincing the public body that the minutes are inaccurate.
A suit should be filed in circuit court. The timing of the suit depends on the relief sought, but no action under the meetings law may be commenced more than 60 days after the decision challenged became public record. A complaint for violation of the executive session provisions of the Public Meetings Law may be filed with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.