Notice of Public Meetings ~ Agendas & Minutes

§ 42-46-6 Notice. – (a) All public bodies shall give written notice of their regularly scheduled meetings at the beginning of each calendar year. The notice shall include the dates, times, and places of the meetings and shall be provided to members of the public upon request and to the secretary of state at the beginning of each calendar year in accordance with subsection (f).

(b) Public bodies shall give supplemental written public notice of any meeting within a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours before the date. This notice shall include the date the notice was posted, the date, time and place of the meeting, and a statement specifying the nature of the business to be discussed. Copies of the notice shall be maintained by the public body for a minimum of one year. Nothing contained herein shall prevent a public body, other than a school committee, from adding additional items to the agenda by majority vote of the members. School committees may, however, add items for informational purposes only, pursuant to a request, submitted in writing, by a member of the public during the public comment session of the school committee’s meetings. Said informational items may not be voted upon unless they have been posted in accordance with the provisions of this section. Such additional items shall be for informational purposes only and may not be voted on except where necessary to address an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate action to protect the public or to refer the matter to an appropriate committee or to another body or official.

(c) Written public notice shall include, but need not be limited to, posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting, or if no principal office exists, at the building in which the meeting is to be held, and in at least one other prominent place within the governmental unit, and electronic filing of the notice with the secretary of state pursuant to subsection (f); provided, that in the case of school committees the required public notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the school district under the committee’s jurisdiction; however, ad hoc committees, sub committees and advisory committees of school committees shall not be required to publish notice in a newspaper; however, nothing contained herein shall prevent a public body from holding an emergency meeting, upon an affirmative vote of the majority of the members of the body when the meeting is deemed necessary to address an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate action to protect the public. If an emergency meeting is called, a meeting notice and agenda shall be posted as soon as practicable and shall be electronically filed with the secretary of state pursuant to subsection (e) and, upon meeting, the public body shall state for the record and minutes why the matter must be addressed in less than forty-eight (48) hours and only discuss the issue or issues which created the need for an emergency meeting. Nothing contained herein shall be used in the circumvention of the spirit and requirements of this chapter.

(d) Nothing within this chapter shall prohibit any public body, or the members thereof, from responding to comments initiated by a member of the public during a properly noticed open forum even if the subject matter of a citizen’s comments or discussions were not previously posted, provided such matters shall be for informational purposes only and may not be voted on except where necessary to address an unexpected occurrence that requires immediate action to protect the public or to refer the matter to an appropriate committee or to another body or official. Nothing contained in this chapter requires any public body to hold an open forum session, to entertain or respond to any topic nor does it prohibit any public body from limiting comment on any topic at such an open forum session. No public body, or the members thereof, may use this section to circumvent the spirit or requirements of this chapter.

(e) A school committee may add agenda items not appearing in the published notice required by this section under the following conditions:

(1) The revised agenda is electronically filed with the secretary of state pursuant to subsection (f), and is posted on the school district’s website and the two (2) public locations required by this section at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting;

(2) The new agenda items were unexpected and could not have been added in time for newspaper publication;

(3) Upon meeting, the public body states for the record and minutes why the agenda items could not have been added in time for newspaper publication and need to be addressed at the meeting;

(4) A formal process is available to provide timely notice of the revised agenda to any person who has requested that notice, and the school district has taken reasonable steps to make the public aware of this process; and

(5) The published notice shall include a statement that any changes in the agenda will be posted on the school district’s web site and the two (2) public locations required by this section and will be electronically filed with the secretary of state at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance of the meeting.

(f) All notices required by this section to be filed with the secretary of state shall be electronically transmitted to the secretary of state in accordance with rules and regulations which shall be promulgated by the secretary of state. This requirement of the electronic transmission and filing of notices with the secretary of state shall take effect one year after this subsection takes effect.

(g) If a public body fails to transmit notices in accordance with this section, then any aggrieved person may file a complaint with the attorney general in accordance with § 42-46-8.

§ 42-46-7 Minutes. – (a) All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all their meetings. The minutes shall include, but need not be limited to:

(1) The date, time, and place of the meeting;

(2) The members of the public body recorded as either present or absent;

(3) A record by individual members of any vote taken; and

(4) Any other information relevant to the business of the public body that any member of the public body requests be included or reflected in the minutes.

(b) A record of all votes taken at all meetings of public bodies, listing how each member voted on each issue, shall be a public record and shall be available, to the public at the office of the public body, within two (2) weeks of the date of the vote. The minutes shall be public records and unofficial minutes shall be available, to the public at the office of the public body, within thirty-five (35) days of the meeting or at the next regularly scheduled meeting, whichever is earlier, except where the disclosure would be inconsistent with §§ 42-46-4 and 42-46-5 or where the public body by majority vote extends the time period for the filing of the minutes and publicly states the reason.

(c) The minutes of a closed session shall be made available at the next regularly scheduled meeting unless the majority of the body votes to keep the minutes closed pursuant to §§ 42-46-4 and 42-46-5.

(d) All public bodies within the executive branch of the state government and all state public and quasi-public boards, agencies and corporations shall keep official and/or approved minutes of all meetings of the body and shall file a copy of the minutes of all open meetings with the secretary of state for inspection by the public within thirty-five (35) days of the meeting; provided that this subsection shall not apply to public bodies whose responsibilities are solely advisory in nature.

(e) All minutes required by this section to be filed with the secretary of state shall be electronically transmitted to the secretary of state in accordance with rules and regulations which shall be promulgated by the secretary of state. This requirement of the electronic transmission and filing of minutes with the secretary of state shall take effect one year after this subsection takes effect. If a public body fails to transmit minutes in accordance with this subsection, then any aggrieved person may file a complaint with the attorney general in accordance with § 42-46-8.

From Title 42 of the State of Rhode Island General Laws, State Affairs and Government. Chapter 42-46. Open Meetings.

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