Ohio Open Meetings Law
The Ohio Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statute 121.22 of the Ohio Revised Code define the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Ohio. For more information go the page or go to Ohio sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
We do not currently have any pages on open meetings litigation in Ohio. To add some see our Sunshine litigation project page.
Proposed open meetings legislation
Here is a list of open meetings legislation for the Ohio in 2010:
|House Bill 1||Current Status: (effective 07/17/2010)||
House Bill 1, introduced to the House of Representatives by Representative Vernon Sykes is the state budget bill for 2010. The bill is quite long and extremely complicated. This bill exempts the Ohio Public Employees Deferred Compensation Board, Department of Health, Video Service Authorization, Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System And Registry, county DD board, and State Board of Pharmacy or portions of them from public records as well as providing a way for "peace officers" to protect their personal information from the public record. The bill included employee pay records databases, Board of Educations, Department of Agriculture, a report by the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, Department of Health Child Death Review Database in the public record. The bill also required agencies to use technology to reduce transportation costs while adheering to open meetings laws. 
|House Bill 2||Current Status: Passed with partial veto on 04/01/09 (effective 07/01/09)||
House Bill 2, introduced to the House of Representatives by Representative Peter Ujvagi which would require the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to adopt and publish rules to govern proceedings for meetings of the Ohio Transportation Finance Commission, which would be open to the public and minutes of those meetings would be obtainable as public records. The commission was also created by this act. 
|Senate Bill 165||Current Status: Signed into law on 03/31/10 (effective 06/30/10)||
Senate Bill 165, introduced to the Senate by Senator Tom Niehaus which would require the legislative authority of a political subdivision to hold an open meeting if a proposal has been set forth concerning development of oil and gas resources in an urban area owned by the political subdivision. This meeting would be held in and public venue inside the municipal corporation or township in which the proposed well would be located and would be open to all. 
Statement of purposeThe statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
"This section shall be liberally construed to require public officials to take official action and to conduct all deliberations upon official business only in open meetings unless the subject matter is specifically excepted by law."
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law states that a meeting is any prearranged discussion of public business by a quorum of the public body.
Notable exemptions to this definition include:
- audit conferences conducted by the state auditor
- adult parole authority hearings conducted at prisons
- licensing hearings of the Board of Nursing, the State Board of Pharmacy, or the State Chiropractic Board
- The executive committee of the emergency response commission when deciding if they want to pursue a civil action
- When state agencies who provide public assistance funds for businesses are considering the personal information or trade secrets of those businesses
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as any board, committee or other decision making body of the state or any political subdivision including all subcommittees of these government bodies. The act also explicitly includes the meetings of sanitary districts for the purposes of electing board of director members and for the purpose of discussing pending litigation.
Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:
- grand juries
- Organized Crime Investigations Commission
- Child Fatality Review Board
- State Medical Board
The legislature is explicitly exempted from the Ohio Open Meetings Law under Ohio Statute 111.15. However, the state constitution requires meetings of the legislature to be open unless a 2/3 vote of the legislature closes the meeting. In addition, Ohio Statute 101.15 requires all meetings of legislative committees to be open to the public and requires the committee to provide public notice with a minimum of 24 hours notice for emergency meetings. Any action taken in violation of this law is considered void.
The act requires that all public bodies develop a regular schedule of meetings that they must make accessible to the public. For special meetings, the public agencies must provide 24 hours notice to all media organizations who have requested it. Individuals and businesses may request and receive notice of meetings for a reasonable fee. 
The act requires any public official to be present at the meeting of a public body in order to vote or count towards a quorum. The act also mandates that all public bodies maintain minutes of all meetings and make them readily available for the public.
|Common Executive Session Exemptions|
|Personal Privacy(Including Employees)|
|Purchase or Sale of Property|
|Exempt under other laws|
Public bodies my call closed executive sessions with a majority roll call vote for the following reasons:
- to consider matters relating to public employees, specifically employment, discipline and complaints unless the employee requests a public hearing
- to consider the purchase or sale of property
- matters that fall under the attorney-client privilege
- labor negotiations
- discussing information that is exempt under the Ohio Open Records Law or federal statute
- security information
- to consider hospital trade secrets
Any individual may file suit against a public body who has violated the open meetings law. A court may void any action taken during a meeting in violation of the open meetings law. The court may also assess fines of up to $500 and attorney fees. Violations of court issued injunctions to prevent violation of law can result in a removal from office. 
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