The Open Meeting Law (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 13D) divides meetings into three types: regular meetings, special meetings, and emergency meetings. Every public body is required to provide members of the public with notice of its meetings, regardless of the type of meeting. The same notice requirements that apply for any type of closed meeting would apply for the same type of open meeting.
How must a public body give notice for a regular meeting that is either open or closed?
- The only notice requirement for a regular meeting is to have a schedule of the public body’s regular meetings kept on file at its primary offices.
- If the date, time, and/or place of regular meeting changes, special meeting notice requirements apply.
- Additional notice is not required when all or part of a regular meeting will be closed. The only required notice is the established schedule of regular meetings.
What is a special meeting?
- A special meeting is any meeting, other than an emergency meeting, that is not a regularly scheduled meeting.
How must a public body give notice for a special meeting that is either open or closed?
- Three days before a special meeting, a public body must post written notice on its principal bulletin board or usual meeting room door.
- The posted notice must include the date, time, and place of the special meeting. The notice must also include the purpose of the meeting, so that what can be discussed or decided at the meeting is limited to that purpose. The purpose should include all topics that will be discussed and/or acted upon at the special meeting.
What is required when a person requests notice of open or closed special meetings?
- Not only must a public body post notice of a special meeting, it must also mail or otherwise deliver notice, at least three days before the meeting, to any person who has made a written request for a personal notice of special meetings. As an alternative to mailing or delivering the notice to requestors, the public body may publish the notice in its official newspaper or a qualified newspaper of general circulation in the area.
- The personal notice to requestors must include the date, time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
Can a person limit his/her request for notice of open or closed special meetings?
- A request for notice of a special meeting may be limited so that a person only receives notice of meetings about particular subjects. This gives members of the public the option to attend only those meetings where a topic of interest or concern will be discussed.
What is an emergency meeting?
- An emergency meeting is a special meeting called because of circumstances that require immediate consideration by the public body.
- Although “emergency” is not defined, the Commissioner of Administration in Advisory Opinion 04-004 said that an emergency meeting is one where circumstances will not permit the public body to wait three days to give notice of a special meeting. These circumstances may include dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, or blizzard.
How must a public body give notice for an emergency meeting that is either open or closed?
- Notice of the emergency meeting must be given to members of the public body and a good faith effort must be made to notify each news medium that has filed a written request for notice, if the request includes a telephone number. Notice to the media should be made as soon as reasonably practicable after members of the public body are notified.
- The notice requirements for an emergency meeting differ from a special meeting because of the urgency of the situation.
- Posted or published notice is not required.
Meetings by Telephone or Other Electronic Means
State-level public bodies may conduct meetings by telephone/electronically, if certain conditions are met. If state-level meetings are conducted by telephone/electronically, the meeting notice must include the regular meeting location, that members may participate by telephone/electronically, and whether there are any costs to the public to monitor the meeting from a remote site. The state-level body must post the notice on its website at least 10 days before the meeting.
Other public bodies may only conduct meetings by phone in the event of an emergency, such as a health pandemic or weather event.
Meetings by Interactive Television
Any public body may conduct meetings by interactive television, if certain conditions are met. If interactive television is used to conduct any type of meeting, the public body must provide notice of the regular meeting location and the location where any public body member will be participating by interactive television.
Note about State Agencies
Minnesota Statutes, section 13D.04, subdivision 6, says that the notice requirements in the Open Meeting Law apply to meetings of state agencies only if a statute governing their meetings does not discuss methods for providing notice. Publication of notice in the State Register satisfies any publication requirement for state agencies.