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Nevada Open Meeting Law

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Presentation on theme: "Nevada Open Meeting Law"— Presentation transcript:

1 Nevada Open Meeting Law
Nathan Edwards Deputy District Attorney Washoe County District Attorney’s Office

2 Open Meeting Law Is it worth it? Must local governments give public notice before deciding a matter? Must every meeting be agendized?

3 SUNSHINE • The “People’s Business,” conducted by public bodies, shall be open to the public. Thus, the Open Meeting Law applies to all meetings of a public body at which deliberation takes place and/or action is taken…. NRS , et. seq.

4 What Is a Public Body? Any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative body of the State or a local government which expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue or which advises or makes recommendations to any entity that expends or disburses or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue CABs have advisory power Legislature and Judiciary Exempted

5 What Is a Meeting? Gathering of members of a public body in which a quorum is present to deliberate toward a decision or to take action on any matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.

6 Meeting (continued) A series of gatherings of members of a public body at which Less than a quorum is present at any individual gathering; The members attending the individual gatherings collectively constitute a quorum; and The series of gatherings was held with the specific intent to avoid the provisions of the law.

7 Exceptions Social Functions Attorney-Client Communication
If members do not deliberate toward a decision or take action on any matter over which the public body to which they belong has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory power Attorney-Client Communication To receive information from the public body’s attorney and to deliberate on potential or existing litigation on a matter over which the body has control, supervision, jurisdiction or advisory power

8 What Constitutes a Quorum?
A simple majority of the constituent membership of a public body unless another proportion is established by law Elected body requires majority of full membership for affirmative action Appointed body requires majority of quorum for any action

9 What Constitutes an Action?
A decision made by a majority of members present during a meeting of a public body A commitment or promise made by a majority of members of a public body during a meeting

10 Action (continued) Serial Decision-making Constitutes a Violation
Requires a majority of the members Applies to Communications in Writing, i.e., Letters and s Includes Discussions by and among Members about a Matter to be Heard

11 What Constitutes Notice?
Written notice, to include: Time, place and location of meeting List of locations where notice has been posted An agenda, to include: Clear and complete statement of topics scheduled to be considered during meeting Indication of those items on which action may be taken A public comment period

12 Notice (continued) Notice to be posted at principal office of public body or building at which meeting is to be held Not less than three additional separate and prominent places within jurisdiction Not later than 9 a.m. of third working day prior to meeting

13 Notice (Continued) Delivered to the postal service used by the public body not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meeting If agreed by requestor, delivered by not later than 9 a.m. of the third working day prior to the meeting Supplemental posting on website, if available

14 Other Requirements Public body must make available, upon request, and at no charge: A copy of the agenda A copy of any proposed ordinance or regulation to be discussed at meeting Any other supporting material provided to public body May provide by electronic mail

15 Exceptions Confidential documents
Materials not yet provided to members Caveat: Unless confidential by law or subject to an attorney-client privilege, materials must be available to public at time provided to members

16 Emergency Items Emergency means – as stated on the record
An unforeseen circumstance which requires immediate action and includes, but is not limited to, Disasters; or Impairment of health or safety Loss of money or grant opportunity

17 Other Issues Time of Meeting and Time Certains Cancellations No Quorum
Accommodations for Disabled Closed Meetings Special notice when taking property or administrative action against a person

18 Public Comment Must be on agenda, but placement up to public body
Not limited to only one public comment period May not circumscribe content of speech on public comment except: Comments may be required to be directed to board as a whole – no personal attacks Comments may be limited to matters not on the agenda as long as comment will be allowed at time of agenda item

19 Disruptive Behavior Public body may adopt rules governing public comment and input on agenda items Rules may not be based upon content of a person’s speech/comment Warning appropriate Removal not a violation

20 Minutes and Public Access
Minutes must include, at minimum: Date, time and place of meeting Members present and those absent Substance of matters discussed or decided and record of any vote Substance of comments of member of general public, if requested, and copy of written materials, if any. Any other matter if requested by member of public body

21 Minutes (continued) To be available for inspection within 30 days of meeting (even if in draft form) Maintained for 5 years; to be archived Available to subject of closed session upon request or if confidentiality waived

22 Recorded and/or Audiotaped
The meeting may be recorded or audio-taped by third party - as long as not disruptive of meeting Tape must be retained for at least 1 year Tape must be made available to public – at any time following meeting

23 What Happens if Law Violated?
Attorney General may bring action to: Have action declared void (60 days) Obtain injunctive relief to require compliance with law (120 days) Bring a criminal action (6 months) Civil action may be maintained by other than Attorney General

24 Violation (continued)
Misdemeanor Member attending a meeting where action is taken in violation of law (with knowledge of violation) Wrongful exclusion of person from meeting

25 Other Meeting Matters Correction of Minutes Preparation of Agenda

26 Final Comments Drowning under the open meeting law? Let staff or counsel be your oars: knowledge, experience, advice.

27 Who to Contact Bob Webb Sheri Ingley Nathan Edwards
; Sheri Ingley ; Nathan Edwards ;

28 Questions???

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