SCS CSHB 254(RLS): "An Act relating to open meetings of governmental bodies."

00 SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 254(RLS)                                                                            
01 "An Act relating to open meetings of governmental bodies."                                                              
02 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                                
03    * Section 1.  AS 24.60.037 is amended to read:                                                                       
04  Sec. 24.60.037.  OPEN MEETINGS [LAW].  Legislators shall conduct                                                     
05 meetings that are open to the public [ABIDE BY AS 44.62.310 - 44.62.312 (OPEN                                          
06 MEETINGS LAW)].  The committee shall develop guidelines for the conduct of open                                        
07 meetings adapted to the special needs of [APPLICATION OF THIS SECTION TO]                                              
08 the legislature.  The guidelines must permit closed caucuses and private, informal                                      
09 meetings or conversations between legislators in which political strategy is discussed.                                 
10 In a proceeding under AS 24.60.170 in which a violation of this section is alleged, if                                  
11 the committee finds that a person acted within the adopted guidelines, the committee                                    
12 shall dismiss the complaint as to that violation.                                                                       
13    * Sec. 2.  AS 44.62.310(a) is amended to read:                                                                       
14  (a)  All meetings of a governmental [LEGISLATIVE] body of a public entity                                         
01 [, OF A BOARD OF REGENTS, OR OF AN ADMINISTRATIVE BODY, BOARD,                                                          
02 COMMISSION, COMMITTEE, SUBCOMMITTEE, AUTHORITY, COUNCIL,                                                                
03 AGENCY, OR OTHER ORGANIZATION, INCLUDING SUBORDINATE UNITS                                                              
04 OF THE ABOVE GROUPS, OF THE STATE OR ANY OF ITS POLITICAL                                                               
05 SUBDIVISIONS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO MUNICIPALITIES,                                                              
06 BOROUGHS, SCHOOL BOARDS, AND ALL OTHER BOARDS, AGENCIES,                                                                
07 ASSEMBLIES, COUNCILS, DEPARTMENTS, DIVISIONS, BUREAUS,                                                                  
08 COMMISSIONS, OR ORGANIZATIONS, ADVISORY OR OTHERWISE,] of the                                                           
09 state [OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORTED IN WHOLE OR IN PART BY                                                             
10 PUBLIC MONEY OR AUTHORIZED TO SPEND PUBLIC MONEY,] are open to                                                          
11 the public except as otherwise provided by this section or another provision of law.                                  
12 Attendance [EXCEPT FOR MEETINGS OF A HOUSE OF THE LEGISLATURE,                                                        
13 ATTENDANCE] and participation at meetings by members of the public or by                                                
14 members of a governmental body may be by teleconferencing.  Agency materials that                                     
15 are to be considered at the meeting shall be made available at teleconference locations                                 
16 if practicable.  Except when voice votes are authorized, the vote shall be conducted                                  
17 in such a manner that the public may know the vote of each person entitled to vote.                                     
18 The vote at a meeting held by teleconference shall be taken by roll call.  This section                                 
19 does not apply to any votes required to be taken to organize a governmental                                           
20 [PUBLIC] body described in this subsection.                                                                             
21    * Sec. 3.  AS 44.62.310(b) is amended to read:                                                                       
22  (b)  If permitted [EXCEPTED] subjects are to be discussed at a meeting in                                          
23 executive session, the meeting must first be convened as a public meeting and the                                      
24 question of holding an executive session to discuss matters that are listed [COME                                     
25 WITHIN THE EXCEPTIONS CONTAINED] in (c) of this section shall be determined                                             
26 by a majority vote of the governmental body.  The motion to convene in executive                                     
27 session must clearly and with specificity describe the subject of the proposed                                          
28 executive session without defeating the purpose of addressing the subject in                                            
29 private.  Subjects may not be considered at the executive session except those                                         
30 mentioned in the motion calling for the executive session unless auxiliary to the main                                  
31 question.  Action may not be taken at an [THE] executive session, except to give                                     
01 direction to an attorney or labor negotiator regarding the handling of a specific                                       
02 legal matter or pending labor negotiations.                                                                            
03    * Sec. 4.  AS 44.62.310(c) is amended to read:                                                                       
04  (c)  The following [EXCEPTED] subjects may be considered [DISCUSSED]                                                
05 in an executive session:                                                                                                
06   (1)  matters, the immediate knowledge of which would clearly have an                                                 
07 adverse effect upon the finances of the public entity [GOVERNMENT UNIT];                                              
08   (2)  subjects that tend to prejudice the reputation and character of any                                             
09 person, provided the person may request a public discussion;                                                            
10   (3)  matters which by law, municipal charter, or ordinance are required                                              
11 to be confidential;                                                                                                   
12   (4)  matters involving consideration of government records that by                                                  
13 law are not subject to public disclosure.                                                                            
14    * Sec. 5.  AS 44.62.310(d) is amended to read:                                                                       
15  (d)  This section does not apply to                                                                                   
16   (1)  a governmental body performing a judicial or quasi-judicial                                                   
17 function [BODIES] when holding a meeting solely to make a decision in an                                              
18 adjudicatory proceeding;                                                                                                
19   (2)  juries;                                                                                                         
20   (3)  parole or pardon boards;                                                                                        
21   (4)  meetings of a hospital medical staff; [OR]                                                                      
22   (5)  meetings of the governmental [GOVERNING] body or any                                                          
23 committee of a hospital when holding a meeting solely to act upon matters of                                            
24 professional qualifications, privileges or discipline;                                                                
25   (6)  staff meetings or other gatherings of the employees of a public                                                
26 entity, including meetings of an employee group established by policy of the Board                                      
27 of Regents of the University of Alaska or held while acting in an advisory capacity                                     
28 to the Board of Regents; or                                                                                             
29   (7)  meetings held for the purpose of participating in or attending                                                  
30 a gathering of a national, state, or regional organization of which the public                                          
31 entity, governmental body, or member of the governmental body is a member, but                                          
01 only if no action is taken and no business of the governmental body is conducted                                        
02 at the meetings.                                                                                                       
03    * Sec. 6.  AS 44.62.310(e) is amended to read:                                                                       
04  (e)  Reasonable public notice shall be given for all meetings required to be                                          
05 open under this section.  The notice must include the date, time, and place of the                                      
06 meeting and, if the meeting is by teleconference, the location of any teleconferencing                                  
07 facilities that will be used.  Subject [IN ADDITION] to the publication required by                                   
08 AS 44.62.175(a) in the Alaska Administrative Journal, the notice may be given by                                        
09 using [A COMBINATION OF] print or [AND] broadcast media.  The notice shall be                                        
10 posted at the principal office of the public entity or, if the public entity has no                                     
11 principal office, at a place designated by the governmental body.  The                                                  
12 governmental body shall provide notice in a consistent fashion for all its meetings.                                   
13    * Sec. 7.  AS 44.62.310(f) is repealed and reenacted to read:                                                        
14  (f)  Action taken contrary to this section is voidable.  A lawsuit to void an                                         
15 action taken in violation of this section must be filed in superior court within 180 days                               
16 after the date of the action.  A member of a governmental body may not be named in                                      
17 an action to enforce this section in the member's personal capacity.  A governmental                                    
18 body that violates or is alleged to have violated this section may cure the violation or                                
19 alleged violation by holding another meeting in compliance with notice and other                                        
20 requirements of this section and conducting a substantial and public reconsideration                                    
21 of the matters considered at the original meeting.  If the court finds that an action is                                
22 void, the governmental body may discuss and act on the matter at another meeting                                        
23 held in compliance with this section.  A court may hold that an action taken at a                                       
24 meeting held in violation of this section is void only if the court finds that, considering                             
25 all of the circumstances, the public interest in compliance with this section outweighs                                 
26 the harm that would be caused to the public interest and to the public entity by voiding                                
27 the action.  In making this determination, the court shall consider at least the                                        
28 following:                                                                                                              
29   (1)  the expense that may be incurred by the public entity, other                                                    
30 governmental bodies, and individuals if the action is voided;                                                           
31   (2)  the disruption that may be caused to the affairs of the public entity,                                          
01 other governmental bodies, and individuals if the action is voided;                                                     
02   (3)  the degree to which the public entity, other governmental bodies,                                               
03 and individuals may be exposed to additional litigation if the action is voided;                                        
04   (4)  the extent to which the governing body, in meetings held in                                                     
05 compliance with this section, has previously considered the subject;                                                    
06   (5)  the amount of time that has passed since the action was taken;                                                  
07   (6)  the degree to which the public entity, other governmental bodies,                                               
08 or individuals have come to rely on the action;                                                                         
09   (7)  whether and to what extent the governmental body has, before or                                                 
10 after the lawsuit was filed to void the action, engaged in or attempted to engage in the                                
11 public reconsideration of matters originally considered in violation of this section;                                   
12   (8)  the degree to which violations of this section were wilful, flagrant,                                           
13 or obvious;                                                                                                             
14   (9)  the degree to which the governing body failed to adhere to the                                                  
15 policy under AS 44.62.312(a).                                                                                           
16    * Sec. 8.   AS 44.62.310 is amended by adding new subsections to read:                                               
17  (g)  Subsection (f) of this section does not apply to a governmental body that                                        
18 has only authority to advise or make recommendations to a public entity and has no                                      
19 authority to establish policies or make decisions for the public entity.                                                
20  (h)  In this section,                                                                                                 
21   (1)  "governmental body" means an assembly, council, board,                                                          
22 commission, committee, or other similar body of a public entity with the authority to                                   
23 establish policies or make decisions for the public entity or with the authority to advise                              
24 or make recommendations to the public entity; "governmental body" includes the                                          
25 members of a subcommittee or other subordinate unit of a governmental body if the                                       
26 subordinate unit consists of two or more members;                                                                       
27   (2)  "meeting" means a gathering of members of a governmental body                                                   
28 when                                                                                                                    
29   (A)  more than three members or a majority of the members,                                                          
30 whichever is less, are present, a matter upon which the governmental body is                                            
31 empowered to act is considered by the members collectively, and the                                                     
01 governmental body has the authority to establish policies or make decisions for                                         
02 a public entity; or                                                                                                     
03   (B)  the gathering is prearranged for the purpose of considering                                                    
04 a matter upon which the governmental body is empowered to act and the                                                   
05 governmental body has only authority to advise or make recommendations for                                              
06 a public entity but has no authority to establish policies or make decisions for                                        
07 the public entity;                                                                                                      
08   (3)  "public entity" means an entity of the state or of a political                                                  
09 subdivision of the state including an agency, a board or commission, the University of                                  
10 Alaska, a public authority or corporation, a municipality, a school district, and other                                 
11 governmental units of the state or a political subdivision of the state; it does not                                    
12 include the court system or the legislative branch of state government.                                                 
13    * Sec. 9.  AS 44.62.312(b) is amended to read:                                                                       
14  (b)  AS 44.62.310(c) and (d) [AS 44.62.310(c)(1)] shall be construed narrowly                                       
15 in order to effectuate the policy stated in (a) of this section and to avoid exemptions                              
16 from open meeting requirements and unnecessary executive sessions.