Public Access Opinion 14-012

Open Meetings Act: “public comment”

Open Meetings Act - OMA
Case: Public Access Opinion 14-012
Date: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

“The public has a statutory right to address public bodies.”

A public body denied an individual the right to address it during its open meeting. The public body’s rules required individuals to submit written requests at least five working days before meetings. This individual’s request was submitted four days before the meeting and therefore denied by the public body.

A rule like this violates OMA. OMA requires public bodies to allow “[a]ny [individual(s)] …to address [them] under the rules established and recorded by the [it].” Rules for addressing a public body may only impose reasonable “time, place and manner” regulations that are necessary to further a significant governmental interest, e.g., maintaining decorum during public meetings. This rule did not. It did not even give the public an opportunity to see the posted agenda (required 48 hours before a meeting) before requesting to address the public body.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.