Making Open Meetings Make Sense


Ever participate in your representative democracy by attending a government meeting, only to be utterly lost as the officials whip through an agenda referring to cryptic items you don’t understand? Ever notice that somehow the commission, council or board members have a stack of info not attached to your agenda?
Sparked by complaints about this all-too-common scenario, the Legislature last session passed some laws to give citizens more access. Those that came into effect October 1 include:

1. Each state agency and local government must appoint “records officials” whose job is to help citizens find public records.

2. The name and contact information of the person who can help the public with relevant documents must be on all meeting agendas.

3. Relevant documents for each agenda must be made available online. If the docs are hundreds of pages, a citizen may request a free copy via email.

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