Open Meetings Act Notice Requirement

 Effective December 31, 2012, Public Act 528 of 2012 amended the Open Meetings Act to address certain posting and notice requirements.

Public notice of rescheduled regular and special meetings must be made at both the public body’s principal office and on the publicly accessible portion of the public body’s website “if the public body directly or indirectly maintains an internet presence that includes monthly or more frequent updates of public meeting agendas or minutes . . ..” Notice of regular meetings remains unaltered.

The internet notice must appear either on the public body’s homepage or on a separate page dedicated to public notices of non-regularly scheduled public meetings. The separate webpage must be accessible from the homepage via a “prominent and conspicuous link” which describes its purpose.

Notice for “emergency” meetings was also addressed. An emergency meeting may take place with less than 18 hours notice only for a “severe and imminent threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.” Paper copies of the public notice for an “emergency” meeting must be made available to the public at the meeting and must include a specific explanation of the circumstances which prevented the public body from complying with the 18-hour notice requirement. If the public body maintains an internet presence, the public notice and specific explanation must also be posted on the website in the same manner as rescheduled regular and special postings. The public body must also notify the board of commissioners of the county in which the public body is principally located within 48 hours of holding an emergency meeting.

The Open Meetings Act now requires that all public notices must be accessible by the public during the full notice period required by the Act. This requirement reflects an Attorney General Opinion which concluded that the notice requirements were not met if access to the notice was impeded because the building within which the public notice was posted was closed during a portion of the 18 hours required for a special meeting posting. The Attorney General, however, concluded that the notice requirement is met if the notice was posted in a manner so that it could be viewed from the outside of the building housing the public body’s principal offices (e.g., taped to the inside of a window near the building’s entranceway).

As always, check board policy and by-laws for any additional local posting requirements. While the Act does not require that the notice include the purpose for the meeting (or to list an agenda), local policies have such a requirement.