Open Meeting Law
Open meeting laws are laws mandating that members of the public be allowed to attend government meetings. The goal of such laws is to ensure that the public is adequately informed of the actions of its government.
Typically, open meeting laws include provisions mandating that governments give advance notice to the public of when and where its meetings will be held, and what will be discussed at them (the agenda). Additionally, the laws often mandate that the government entity publish a record after the fact of what transpired at the meeting in question.
Open meeting laws are essential to the maintenance of a transparent government in which public business will be performed in an open and public manner. Citizens who are fully aware of and free to observe the performance of public officials and listen to the deliberations are in a much better position to ensure that their government is operating in an honest, cost effective and prudent manner.
Websites and open meetings
The Transparency Checklist recommends that government websites at a minimum include:
- Time and place of meeting;
- Tentative agenda of an open meeting; and agendas archived for 3-5 years.
- Minutes of all meetings are recorded and posted online for past 3-5 years.
- Whether the meeting is open or closed.
- If the meeting is videotaped, the video should be made available online.
- Two weeks notice of the meeting; place of meeting;
- Whether public input is allowed at the meeting and, if so, what the rules are that govern public input
- Example of proactively disclosed meetings: Anderson County, SC
- County websites
- City websites
- School district websites
- State agency websites
- Open meetings laws for each state