WYOMING OPEN MEETINGS LAW            Bill Taylor    Northeast Area Community  Development Extension Educator
PURPOSE“The agencies of Wyoming exist to conductpublic business. Certain deliberations andactions shall be taken openly as...
WHO?• All agencies and divisions of the state,  counties, municipalities or other political  subdivisions (except state le...
NONPROFITS/PRIVATE         ORGANIZATIONS?• If receiving public funds or conducting  work of a public agency, the law may l...
WHICH MEETINGS?“All meetings of the governing body of anagency are public meetings, open to thepublic at all times, except...
WHAT IS A MEETING?An assembly of at least a quorum called by properauthority for the purpose of discussion, deliberation,p...
MAJORITY OF BOARD RIDES      TOGETHER TO A CONFERENCE        AND DISCUSSES PENDING               BUSINESS.50%    1. Legal5...
TWO MEMBERS OF 5 MEMBER BOARD ARE DRINKING COFFEE IN A  PUBLIC PLACE AND DISCUSSING    BOARD BUSINESS. A THIRD  MEMBER HAP...
• Legal, as long as no action was taken• As soon as a decision is made, action has  been taken, which must happen at a  pu...
ELECTRONIC MEETINGSTelephone and online Internet discussionsconstitute a meeting if a quorum is present          10
COMPONENTS OF A MEETING• Called by proper authority  – Board chair, executive committee, mayor, etc.• For proper purpose  ...
ACTION• Transaction of official business of  governing body, including a collective  decision, a collective commitment or ...
PUBLIC DISRUPTION• Those creating disruption which makes it  unfeasible to conduct meeting may be  ordered removed.  – If ...
NOTICE• Regular public meetings are to be  established and held on that schedule• Notice of all meetings must be given to ...
SPECIAL MEETINGS• Any meeting not regularly scheduled• May be called by presiding officer by giving  notice to members and...
EMERGENCY MEETINGS• Matters of serious immediate concern• All reasonable efforts to provide public  notice• All actions ta...
OUR BOARD USES EXECUTIVE          SESSIONS.1. Yes2. No                         0%   0%                     s              ...
EXECUTIVE SESSIONS• Only allowed for specific purposes listed in  the statute  – With counsel and law enforcement concerni...
– A licensing agency when administering  examinations– Considering parole or release of prisoners– Considering real estate...
• Motion must be made and passed by  board to enter into executive session  – Motion should state statutory reason• Only d...
• Any action must be made by motion in the  public meeting after the board returns from  the executive session• Any member...
OUR BOARD IS FOLLOWING   PROPER EXECUTIVE SESSION         PROCEDURE.1. True2. False                         0%   0%       ...
MINUTES• Minutes are required of all meetings, even  if no action is taken• Minutes must be available for public  examinat...
VIOLATIONS• ALL actions taken during meeting in  violation of Open Meetings Act are null  and void  – Contracts, employmen...
REFERENCES• Wyoming State Statutes – Title 16, Chapter 4,  Article 4; 16-4-401 to 16-4-408• Open Public Meetings: A Guide ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Wyoming Open Meetings Law

1,116 views
914 views

Published on

6 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Greg, if you will send your email address to me at weston@uwyo.edu, I will send you a synopsis of case law by Carol Seeger, Campbell County Deputy County Attorney. Remember that many things in the legal realm are not black and white until a determination is made by the courts. I am not qualified to give legal advice, so my recurring answer is to always check with your county, city, or organizational attorney on any issue which may be unclear or in question. I know Ms. Seeger deals with these issue a lot and could probably give you better answers when it comes to the 'gray' areas.

    Concerning the wondering of the public about what is going on behind those closed doors, yes, they do wonder. Consequently, it is always best to be as open and transparent as possible and only use the executive session when necessary. Also, remember, it is illegal for the board to make any decision or take any action in an executive session. They can receive information, have discussion, etc. in an executive session, but MUST come out of executive session and make any decisions, actions, motions, etc. in public.
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Full disclosure: I am a school board member and I want to be sure I'm doing things right. I've gotten some mixed signals and advice on this stuff since I was elected and the past month I decided I needed to read up on all this myself..............@westonces These court determinations intrigue me. Did the courts consider how that leaves the public wondering what all those funny Trustee types are doing behind closed doors?.............I hope I'm not going too far here: Do you know of some examples of court decisions I could search for regarding the use of the exemptions? .................... pardon all my dots. slideshare.net doesn't like my paragraphs nor my linebreak tags.
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • The board may state a more specific reason, but the courts have determined that it is only necessary to state the general provision given in the statute when moving to go to executive session.
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Thank you very much for that explanation. Those pesky 'unless' parts often get me!

    I have another question, if that's okay.

    How about labeling or describing the reason for entering Executive Session. I was just reading through Campbell County SD1's minutes and they often cite 'Personnel' or 'Personnel Issue' as the reason for entering executive session. This seems to be common practice in a few districts around the state.

    When I read section 16-4-405 (a)(ii) I wonder if there isn't some point to listing there the specific 'Personnel Issues' that they did? Does this mean the Agency should pick from this list and state as much in their motion to enter Executive Session? Or is 'To discuss personnel' satisfactory?

    Thanks a whole bunch for any pointers or tips you might be able to provide.

    all best,
    Greg

    Edit to add the section referred to above:

    Wyo. Stat. 16-4-405(a)(ii)
    To consider the appointment, employment, right to practice or dismissal of a public officer, professional person or employee, or to hear complaints or charges brought against an employee, professional person or officer, unless the employee, professional person or officer requests a public hearing. The governing body may exclude from any public or private hearing during the examination of a witness, any or all other witnesses in the matter being investigated. Following the hearing or executive session, the governing body may deliberate on its decision in executive sessions;
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • The statute reads: 'Any member of the governing body of an agency who attends or remains at a meeting knowing the meeting is in violation of this act shall be liable under this subsection unless minutes were taken during the meeting and the parts thereof recording the member's objections are made public or at the next regular public meeting the member objects to the meeting where the violation occurred and asks that the objection be recorded in the minutes.' The county and city attorneys I've spoken to agree that the key is having your objection recorded in the public minutes. Campbell county had a case a few years ago where two board members were protected from court action because their objections were in the minutes. One county attorney even said it would probably be a good idea to stay in the illegal meeting after you have your objection recorded so you know what was discussed illegally.
       Reply 
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
1,116
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
4
Comments
6
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Wyoming Open Meetings Law

  1. 1. WYOMING OPEN MEETINGS LAW Bill Taylor Northeast Area Community Development Extension Educator
  2. 2. PURPOSE“The agencies of Wyoming exist to conductpublic business. Certain deliberations andactions shall be taken openly as provided inthis act.” – Wyo. Stat. 16-4-401• Government business, funded by the public, must be open to the public• Business cannot be hidden to avoid embarrassment or hurt feelings, or save money 2
  3. 3. WHO?• All agencies and divisions of the state, counties, municipalities or other political subdivisions (except state legislature & judiciary)• Any sub-agency of a governmental body, i.e.: – Boards – Commissions – Elected or appointed districts 3
  4. 4. NONPROFITS/PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS?• If receiving public funds or conducting work of a public agency, the law may likely apply – The public has a right to know what is being done with their money and how their business is being conducted – Always err on the side of transparency when in doubt 4
  5. 5. WHICH MEETINGS?“All meetings of the governing body of anagency are public meetings, open to thepublic at all times, except as otherwiseprovided. No action…shall be taken exceptduring a public meeting…Action taken at ameeting not in conformity with this act is nulland void…” – Wyo. Stat. 16-4-403 5
  6. 6. WHAT IS A MEETING?An assembly of at least a quorum called by properauthority for the purpose of discussion, deliberation,presentation of information or taking action regardingpublic business. – Wy AG 2005 Summary• Formal meetings• Informal conferences• Retreats• Work sessions• Presentations• Informational gatherings 6
  7. 7. MAJORITY OF BOARD RIDES TOGETHER TO A CONFERENCE AND DISCUSSES PENDING BUSINESS.50% 1. Legal50% 2. Illegal
  8. 8. TWO MEMBERS OF 5 MEMBER BOARD ARE DRINKING COFFEE IN A PUBLIC PLACE AND DISCUSSING BOARD BUSINESS. A THIRD MEMBER HAPPENS BY AND JOINS THE DISCUSSION.50% 1. Legal50% 2. Illegal
  9. 9. • Legal, as long as no action was taken• As soon as a decision is made, action has been taken, which must happen at a public meeting.• However, most county attorneys advise against discussing business in informal settings to avoid the appearance of illegality. 9
  10. 10. ELECTRONIC MEETINGSTelephone and online Internet discussionsconstitute a meeting if a quorum is present 10
  11. 11. COMPONENTS OF A MEETING• Called by proper authority – Board chair, executive committee, mayor, etc.• For proper purpose – Discussion, deliberation, presentation of information, or taking action regarding public business• Quorum – Number of members required in bylaws or by statute to conduct business 11
  12. 12. ACTION• Transaction of official business of governing body, including a collective decision, a collective commitment or promise, or an actual vote upon a motion, resolution, rule, order or ordinance.• Actions may only be taken in a public meeting 12
  13. 13. PUBLIC DISRUPTION• Those creating disruption which makes it unfeasible to conduct meeting may be ordered removed. – If will not leave, call law enforcement and recess• Or meeting may be recessed and reconvened in a different location.• Members of the press cannot be excluded unless they are part of the disruption. 13
  14. 14. NOTICE• Regular public meetings are to be established and held on that schedule• Notice of all meetings must be given to any person or media outlet who requests it• No specific form is required, but notice must include name of agency, date, time, place, general or specific purpose• Although published notice is not specified by law, a published notice providing the regular meeting time and place is recommended 14
  15. 15. SPECIAL MEETINGS• Any meeting not regularly scheduled• May be called by presiding officer by giving notice to members and each media outlet requesting notices• Notice must specify time, place, and business to be covered – No minimum time is specified, but the notice should be at least 24 hours prior• Only that business specified in the notice may be addressed 15
  16. 16. EMERGENCY MEETINGS• Matters of serious immediate concern• All reasonable efforts to provide public notice• All actions taken at emergency meeting are temporary and must be ratified at a public meeting within 48 hours 16
  17. 17. OUR BOARD USES EXECUTIVE SESSIONS.1. Yes2. No 0% 0% s No Ye
  18. 18. EXECUTIVE SESSIONS• Only allowed for specific purposes listed in the statute – With counsel and law enforcement concerning a threat to security – Employment, appointment, dismissal, or charges against an employee • The employee may request a public hearing – Litigation – National security 18
  19. 19. – A licensing agency when administering examinations– Considering parole or release of prisoners– Considering real estate when publicity would increase the price– Consider donations the donor wishes confidential– Consider information classified confidential by law– Employment negotiations– Disciplinary action of students 19
  20. 20. • Motion must be made and passed by board to enter into executive session – Motion should state statutory reason• Only discussion or information gathering is allowed – no action can be taken except in the public meeting• Minutes must be taken citing reason for session and general discussion topics – Minutes are to be kept confidential & separate from regular minutes 20
  21. 21. • Any action must be made by motion in the public meeting after the board returns from the executive session• Any member objecting to legality of executive session must be entered into meeting minutes 21
  22. 22. OUR BOARD IS FOLLOWING PROPER EXECUTIVE SESSION PROCEDURE.1. True2. False 0% 0% se ue l Tr Fa
  23. 23. MINUTES• Minutes are required of all meetings, even if no action is taken• Minutes must be available for public examination – A typical charge can be made to provide copies 23
  24. 24. VIOLATIONS• ALL actions taken during meeting in violation of Open Meetings Act are null and void – Contracts, employment decisions, budgets• Anyone attending who did not have their objection recorded, or does not object at the next public meeting, is guilty of a misdemeanor – Possible fine up to $750 24
  25. 25. REFERENCES• Wyoming State Statutes – Title 16, Chapter 4, Article 4; 16-4-401 to 16-4-408• Open Public Meetings: A Guide to Public Accountability for School Board Members and Superintendents, Wyoming School Boards Association, September 2006• The Open Meetings Act: A Summary, Wyoming Office of the Attorney General, July 1, 2005• Wyoming Open Meetings Law: A Handbook for Municipal Elected Officials, Wyoming Association of Municipalities, 2010 25

×