Open Government Bills Pass Half-Way Point

Posted on Mar 8, 2012 in What's New

March 8, 2012

Open government proposals, which directly affect the Office of Information Practices (OIP), Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) or Sunshine Law and have crossed over to the other house, are as follows:

S.B. 2858, S.D. 1 (OIP’s appeals bill) – establishes a uniform process to allow government agencies to challenge OIP’s decisions under the UIPA and Sunshine Law.

S.B. 2859, S.D. 1 (OIP’s Sunshine bill) – establishes three new permitted interactions and safeguards under the Sunshine Law to increase public participation by (1) allowing less than a quorum of board members to attend community events, Neighborhood Board meetings, legislative hearings, and other meetings; (2) allowing testimony to be received at meetings cancelled due to lack of quorum or technical difficulties; and (3) allowing greater communication with the public through the use of social media by less than a quorum of board members.

S.B. 2234, S.D. 2 (electronic posting of agendas, minutes, and meeting materials) – requires all state and county Sunshine Law boards to electronically post agendas and eliminates need to file hard copies; requires state (but not county) boards to electronically post, within 30 days after a public meeting, the board’s minutes and written materials that were presented at the meeting. Allows for meeting notification by e-mail. Implicitly requires (under the UIPA) boards to redact personal, confidential, or excluded information from meeting materials before electronic posting. Defective effective date to ensure further discussion, including how to make electronic postings accessible to disabled persons.

S.B. 2233, S.D. 2 (electronic notice and appropriations) – eliminates the requirement for newspaper publication of legal notices, and appropriates funds for the state to establish a centralized website for electronic publication of notices and to provide website access from the public libraries. Through this bill, OIP intends to seek funds to train agencies and implement S.B. 2234’s new requirements.

S.B. 2737, S.D. 1 (teleconferenced meetings) – allows a public meeting to be conducted by audio communication alone, and requires a meeting to be terminated if audio communication cannot be maintained at all meeting locations where a board member is physically present. Also prevents action upon an agenda item if the visual aids required for that item are not available for all participants at all meeting locations within 15 minutes after audio-only communication is used. Does not change the current law’s requirement to allow the public to join board members at any of the noticed locations where board members will be physically present.

H.B. 1611, H.D. 2 (Sunshine Law) – creates a new permitted interaction allowing any number of board members to attend a public gathering or community event that does not directly relate to any specific board matter over which the board is exercising its adjudicatory, advisory, or legislative function; creates a second new permitted interaction allowing any number of board members to attend conferences and seminars; adds e-mail as a method by which notice of meetings shall be sent.

H.B. 2404, H.D. 1 (electronic posting of minutes) – requires public meeting minutes to be electronically posted on a board’s, the state’s, or the county’s website; also requires hard copies of minutes.

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