Michigan’s Open Meetings Act: Explore the details

Michigan’s Open Meetings Act provides requirements on meeting notices, minutes, and keeping the process open to public participation

In “Michigan’s Open Meetings Act: An introduction,” we explored several general provisions of the Open Meetings Act (OMA). This article will further explore deliberations, decisions, meeting notices and minutes.

The OMA requires the following, subject to exemptions:

  1. “All meetings of a public body shall be open to the public…”
  2. “All decisions of a public body shall be made at a meeting open to the public…”
  3. “All deliberations of a public body constituting a quorum of its members shall take place at a meeting open to the public…”

This all sounds pretty straightforward, however, the attorney general has ruled that a committee empowered to make a decision, to select two out of a possible four courses of action, for example, and depriving the full board of the opportunity to vote on those other two options, is subject to the OMA even though the committee is made up of less than a quorum of the board.

The public body is required to post notices of its meetings at its principal office and may post at other locations it considers appropriate. The OMA also provides requirements for timeliness of meeting postings. The annual calendar must be posted within 10 days after the first meeting and changes to the calendar within 3 days of the meeting at which the change is made. Rescheduled meetings must be posted at least 18 hours before the meeting and meetings recessed more than 36 hours require a new notice.

There is an emergency provision which allows a board, by a 2/3 vote, to meet without the normal notice when a “severe and imminent threat to health, safety or welfare of the public” exists and “delay would be detrimental.”

The OMA also addresses minutes of meetings. In general, minutes must contain the date, time and place of the meeting, members present and absent, any decisions made at the meeting and any roll call votes taken. OMA does not require that minutes contain the contents of speeches or general discussion, although greater levels of detail may be required by other statutes for certain types of meetings.

The minutes must be available within eight business days of the meeting, open to public inspection and copies must be made available at a reasonable cost. Corrections must be made at the next meeting and the minutes must show both the original entry and the correction.

In the third installment of this article series, “Michigan’s Open Meetings Act: Understanding closed sessions,” September 24, we’ll explore certain types of discussions that can be held in private sessions.

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