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

00SENATE 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.