Open Meeting Law

Louisiana State Legislature

CHAPTER 1-A. OPEN MEETINGS LAW
Reference – Louisiana State Legislature - http://legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?p=y&d=727656
RS 42:11
§11.  Short title
This Chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Open Meetings Law".
Acts 2010, No. 861, §18.
NOTE:  Former R.S. 42:11 was redesignated as R.S. 42:26 by Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:12
 
§12.  Public policy for open meetings; liberal construction
A.  It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner and that the citizens be advised of and aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy.  Toward this end, the provisions of this Chapter shall be construed liberally.
B.  Further, to advance this policy, all public bodies shall post a copy of this Chapter.
Added by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1; Acts 1999, No. 467, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
NOTE:  Former R.S. 42:12 was redesignated as R.S. 42:27 by Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:13
 
§13.  Definitions
A.  For the purposes of this Chapter:
(1)  "Consent agenda" means a grouping of procedural or routine agenda items that can be approved with general discussion.
(2)  "Meeting" means the convening of a quorum of a public body to deliberate or act on a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.  It shall also mean the convening of a quorum of a public body by the public body or by another public official to receive information regarding a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
(3)  "Public body" means village, town, and city governing authorities; parish governing authorities; school boards and boards of levee and port commissioners; boards of publicly operated utilities; planning, zoning, and airport commissions; and any other state, parish, municipal, or special district boards, commissions, or authorities, and those of any political subdivision thereof, where such body possesses policy making, advisory, or administrative functions, including any committee or subcommittee of any of these bodies enumerated in this paragraph.
(4)  "Quorum" means a simple majority of the total membership of a public body.
B.  The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to chance meetings or social gatherings of members of a public body at which there is no vote or other action taken, including formal or informal polling of the members.
Added by Acts 1979, No. 681, §1.  Amended by Acts 1981, Ex.Sess., No. 21, §1, eff. Nov. 19, 1981; Acts 1988, No. 821, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2013, No. 416, §1.
NOTE:  Former R.S. 42:13 was redesignated as R.S. 42:28 by Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:14
 
§14.  Meetings of public bodies to be open to the public
A.  Every meeting of any public body shall be open to the public unless closed pursuant to R.S. 42:16, 17, or 18.
B.  Each public body shall be prohibited from utilizing any manner of proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, or any other means to circumvent the intent of this Chapter.
C.  All votes made by members of a public body shall be viva voce and shall be recorded in the minutes, journal, or other official, written proceedings of the body, which shall be a public document.
D.  Except school boards, which shall be subject to R.S. 42:15, each public body conducting a meeting which is subject to the notice requirements of R.S. 42:19(A) shall allow a public comment period at any point in the meeting prior to action on an agenda item upon which a vote is to be taken.  The governing body may adopt reasonable rules and restrictions regarding such comment period.
Added by Acts 1952, No. 484, §1.  Amended by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1; Acts 1977, No. 707, §1; Acts 1978, No. 456, §1; Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 1981, Ex.Sess., No. 21, §1, eff. Nov. 19, 1981; Acts 1989, No. 55, §1; Acts 2001, No. 285, §1; Acts 2010, No. 850, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:15  School board meetings: public content – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:16
 
§16.  Executive Sessions
A public body may hold executive sessions upon an affirmative vote, taken at an open meeting for which notice has been given pursuant to R.S. 42:19, of two-thirds of its constituent members present.  An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by R.S. 42:17; however, no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session.  The vote of each member on the question of holding such an executive session and the reason for holding such an executive session shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting.  Nothing in this Section or R.S. 42:17 shall be construed to require that any meeting be closed to the public, nor shall any executive session be used as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of this Chapter.
Acts 1952, No. 484, §1.  Amended by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1; Acts 1977, No. 707, §1; Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:17
 
§17. Exceptions to open meetings
            A. A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to R.S. 42:16 for one or more of the following reasons:
            (1) Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person, provided that such person is notified in writing at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the scheduled time contained in the notice of the meeting at which such executive session is to take place and that such person may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting. However, nothing in this Paragraph shall permit an executive session for discussion of the appointment of a person to a public body or, except as provided in R.S. 39:1593(C)(2)(c), for discussing the award of a public contract. In cases of extraordinary emergency, written notice to such person shall not be required; however, the public body shall give such notice as it deems appropriate and circumstances permit.
            (2) Strategy sessions or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining, prospective litigation after formal written demand, or litigation when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body.
            (3) Discussion regarding the report, development, or course of action regarding security personnel, plans, or devices, including discussions concerning cybersecurity plans, financial security procedures, and assessment and implementation of any such plans or procedures.
            (4) Investigative proceedings regarding allegations of misconduct.
            (5) Cases of extraordinary emergency, which shall be limited to natural disaster, threat of epidemic, civil disturbances, suppression of insurrections, the repelling of invasions, or other matters of similar magnitude.
            (6) Any meeting of the State Mineral and Energy Board at which records or matters entitled to confidential status by existing law are required to be considered or discussed by the board with its staff or with any employee or other individual, firm, or corporation to whom such records or matters are confidential in their nature, and are disclosed to and accepted by the board subject to such privilege, for the exclusive use in evaluating lease bids or development covering state-owned lands and water bottoms, which exception is proved pursuant to and consistently with the Public Records Act, being Chapter 1 of Title 44 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, as amended, and other statutes to which the board is subject.
            (7) Discussions between a city or parish school board and individual students or the parents or tutors of such students, or both, who are within the jurisdiction of the respective school system, regarding problems of such students or their parents or tutors; provided however that any such parent, tutor, or student may require that such discussions be held in an open meeting.
            (8) Presentations and discussions at meetings of civil service boards of test questions, answers, and papers produced and exhibited by the office of the state examiner, municipal fire and police civil service, pursuant to R.S. 33:2492 or 2552.
            (9) The portion of any meeting of the Second Injury Board during which records or matters regarding the settlement of a workers' compensation claim are required to be considered or discussed by the board with its staff in order to grant prior written approval as required by R.S. 23:1378(A)(6).
            (10) Or any other matters now provided for or as may be provided for by the legislature.
            B. The provisions of this Chapter shall not apply to judicial proceedings.
            C. The provisions of this Chapter shall not prohibit the removal of any person or persons who willfully disrupt a meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is seriously compromised.
            D. The provisions of R.S. 42:19 and R.S. 42:20 shall not apply to any meeting of a private citizens' advisory group or a private citizens' advisory committee established by a public body, when the members of such group or committee do not receive any compensation and serve only in an advisory capacity, except textbook advisory committees of the State Department of Education or the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. However, all other provisions contained in this Chapter shall be applicable to such group or committee and the public body which established such group or committee shall comply with the provisions of R.S. 42:19 in providing the required notice of meetings of such group or committee.
            Added by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1. Amended by Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 1982, No. 215, §1; Acts 1989, No. 389, §1; Acts 2003, No. 336, §1, eff. June 13, 2003; Acts 2006, No. 90, §1, eff. May 25, 2006; Acts 2009, No. 196, §7, eff. July 1, 2009; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2011, No. 188, §1; Acts 2012, No. 811, §15, eff. July 1, 2012; Acts 2014, No. 628, §1; Acts 2021, No. 66, §2, eff. June 4, 2021.
 
RS 42:17.1
 
§17.1. Exception for meetings during a gubernatorially declared disaster or emergency
            A. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Chapter to the contrary, a public body may conduct and its members may attend and participate in a meeting via electronic means provided:
            (1) The governor has declared a state of emergency or disaster involving a geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body and the nature of the emergency or disaster would cause a meeting of the public body conducted pursuant to the other provisions of this Chapter to be detrimental to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
            (2) The presiding officer of the public body certifies on the notice of the meeting that the agenda of the meeting is limited to one or more of the following:
            (a) Matters that are directly related to the public body's response to the disaster or emergency and are critical to the health, safety, or welfare of the public.
            (b) Matters that if they are delayed will cause curtailment of vital public services or severe economic dislocation and hardship.
            (c) Matters that are critical to continuation of the business of the public body and that are not able to be postponed to a meeting held in accordance with the other provisions of this Chapter due to a legal requirement or other deadline that cannot be postponed or delayed by the public body.
            (d) Other matters that are critical or time-sensitive and that in the determination of the presiding officer should not be delayed; however, such matters shall not be considered at the meeting unless the members of the body present at the meeting approve the consideration of the matters by a two-thirds vote.
            (3) The public body and its presiding officer comply with all of the requirements of this Section.
            B. No later than twenty-four hours prior to a meeting conducted pursuant to the provisions of this Section, the public body shall provide for all of the following:
            (1) The notice and agenda for the meeting, which shall be posted on the website of the public body, emailed to any member of the public or the news media who requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely distributed to every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes news within the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body.
            (2) Detailed information regarding how members of the public may participate in the meeting and submit comments regarding matters on the agenda, which information shall be posted on the website of the public body, emailed to any member of the public or the news media who requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely distributed to every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes news within the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body.
            C. For each meeting conducted pursuant to this Section:
            (1) The public body shall provide a mechanism to receive public comment electronically both prior to and during the meeting.
            (2) The public body shall properly identify and acknowledge all public comments during the meeting and shall maintain those comments in its record of the meeting.
            (3) The presiding officer of the public body shall ensure that each person participating in the meeting is properly identified.
            (4) The presiding officer shall ensure that all parts of the meeting, excluding any matter discussed in executive session, are clear and audible to all participants in the meeting including the public.
            D. For the purposes of this Section, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings:
            (1) "Meeting via electronic means" shall mean a meeting occurring via teleconference or video conference.
            (2) "Teleconference" shall mean a method of communication which enables persons in different locations to participate in a meeting and to hear and otherwise communicate with each other.
            (3) "Video conference" shall mean a method of communication which enables persons in different locations to participate in a meeting and to see, hear, and otherwise communicate with each other.
            Acts 2020, No. 302, §2, eff. June 12, 2020; Acts 2020, 2nd Ex. Sess., No. 43, §1, eff. Oct. 28, 2020.
 
RS 42:17.2 – Exceptions for meetings of the pharmacy benefit manager monitoring advisory council – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:17.3 - Exception for meetings of statewide advisory committees of the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:18 - Executive or closed meetings of legislative houses and committees – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:19
 
§19.  Notice of meetings
A.(1)(a)  All public bodies, except the legislature and its committees and subcommittees, shall give written public notice of their regular meetings, if established by law, resolution, or ordinance, at the beginning of each calendar year.  Such notice shall include the dates, times, and places of such meetings.
(b)(i)  All public bodies, except the legislature and its committees and subcommittees, shall give written public notice of any regular, special, or rescheduled meeting no later than twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the meeting.
(ii)(aa)  Such notice shall include the agenda, date, time, and place of the meeting.  The agenda shall not be changed less than twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, prior to the scheduled time of the meeting.
(bb)  Each item on the agenda shall be listed separately and described with reasonable specificity.  Before the public body may take any action on an item, the presiding officer or his designee shall read aloud the description of the item except as otherwise provided in Subitem (dd) of this Item.
(cc)  Upon unanimous approval of the members present at a meeting of a public body, the public body may take up a matter not on the agenda.  Any such matter shall be identified in the motion to take up the matter not on the agenda with reasonable specificity, including the purpose for the addition to the agenda, and entered into the minutes of the meeting.  Prior to any vote on the motion to take up a matter not on the agenda by the public body, there shall be an opportunity for public comment on any such motion in accordance with R.S. 42:14 or 15.  The public body shall not use its authority to take up a matter not on the agenda as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of this Chapter.
(dd)  If an agenda of a meeting of a governing authority of a parish with a population of two hundred thousand or more according to the latest federal decennial census or municipality with a population of one hundred thousand or more according to the latest federal decennial census contains more than fifty items, the governing authority may take action on items listed on a consent agenda without reading the description of each item aloud.  However, before any action is taken on items listed on a consent agenda, the governing authority shall allow a public comment period.  Any item listed on a consent agenda may be removed from the consent agenda by an individual member of the governing authority if a person objects to the presence of the item on the consent agenda and provides reasons for individual discussion at the meeting.  The name of the person who objects to a consent agenda item and the reasons for the objection shall be included in the minutes of the meeting.
(iii)  Following the above information there shall also be attached to the written public notice of the meeting, whether or not such matters will be discussed in an executive session held pursuant to R.S. 42:17(A)(2):
(aa)  A statement identifying the court, case number, and the parties relative to any pending litigation to be considered at the meeting.
(bb)  A statement identifying the parties involved and reasonably identifying the subject matter of any prospective litigation for which formal written demand has been made that is to be considered at the meeting.
(iv)  In cases of extraordinary emergency, such notice shall not be required; however, the public body shall give such notice of the meeting as it deems appropriate and circumstances permit.
(2)  Written public notice given by all public bodies, except the legislature and its committees and subcommittees, shall include, but need not be limited to:
(a)  Posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting, or if no such office exists, at the building in which the meeting is to be held; or by publication of the notice in an official journal of the public body no less than twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the scheduled time of the meeting.  If the public body has a website, additionally by providing notice via the Internet on the website of the public body for no less than twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, immediately preceding the meeting.  The failure to timely post notice via the Internet pursuant to this Subparagraph or the inability of the public to access the public body's website due to any type of technological failure shall not be a violation of the provisions of this Chapter.
(b)  Mailing a copy of the notice to any member of the news media who requests notice of such meetings; any such member of the news media shall be given notice of all meetings in the same manner as is given to members of the public body.
B.  Reasonable public notice of day to day sessions of either house of the legislature, and of all matters pertaining to such meetings, including but not necessarily restricted to the content of notices, quorums for the transaction of business, proxy voting, viva-voce votes, and recordation of votes, shall be governed by the provisions of the Louisiana Constitution, the rules of procedure of the Senate and the House of Representatives, and the Joint Rules applicable to both houses.  Reasonable public notice of meetings of legislative committees and subcommittees shall be given in accordance with such rules as are adopted by the respective houses for the purpose.
Added by Acts 1952, No. 484, §1.  Amended by Acts 1972, No. 669, §1; Acts 1976, No. 665, §1; Acts 1977, No. 707, §1; Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 1981, Ex.Sess., No. 21, §1, eff. Nov. 19, 1981; Acts 1989, No. 390, §1; Acts 2008, No. 131, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2012, No. 461, §1; Acts 2012, No. 747, §1, eff. June 12, 2012; Acts 2013, No. 416, §1; Acts 2014, No. 628, §1.
NOTE:  See Acts 2012, No. 747, §2 regarding public bodies that do not have a website.
 
RS 42:19.1 - Procedure for the proposal, increase, renewal, or continuation of a tax or for calling an election for such purposes by political subdivisions – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:20
 
§20.  Written minutes
A.  All public bodies shall keep written minutes of all of their open meetings.  The minutes to be kept by the legislature and legislative committees and subcommittees shall be governed by the provisions of R.S. 42:21.  The minutes of all other public bodies 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)  The substance of all matters decided, and, at the request of any member, a record, by individual member, of any votes taken.
(4)  Any other information that the public body requests be included or reflected in the minutes.
B.(1)  The minutes shall be public records and shall be available within a reasonable time after the meeting, except where such disclosures would be inconsistent with R.S. 42:16, 17, and 18, or rules adopted under the provisions of R.S. 42:21.
(2)  If the public body has a website, the public body shall post on its website  a copy of the minutes made available pursuant to Paragraph (1) of this Subsection and shall maintain the copy of those minutes on the website for at least three months after the posting.  If the public body is required to publish its minutes in an official journal, the public body shall post its minutes on its website as required by this Paragraph within ten days after publication in the official journal.  If the public body is not required to publish its minutes in an official journal, the public body shall post its minutes on its website as required by this Paragraph within a reasonable time after the meeting. The inability of the public to access the public body's website due to any type of technological failure shall not be a violation of the provisions of this Chapter.
Added by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1.  Amended by Acts 1981, Ex.Sess., No. 21, §1, eff. Nov. 19, 1981; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2014, No. 628, §1.
 
RS 42:21 - Minutes of legislative sessions, legislative committees and subcommittees – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:22 - Presentation and consideration of offer to sell natural gas to a public body, or to operate or acquire ownership of, a gas utility owned or operated by a public body – Not Applicable
 
RS 42:23
 
§23.  Sonic and video recordings; live broadcast
A.  All of the proceedings in a public meeting may be video or tape recorded, filmed, or broadcast live.  However, any nonelected board or commission that has the authority to levy a tax shall video or audio record, film, or broadcast live all proceedings in a public meeting.
B.  A public body shall establish standards for the use of lighting, recording or broadcasting equipment to insure proper decorum in a public meeting.
Added by Acts 1952, No. 484, §1.  Amended by Acts 1972, No. 669, §1; Acts 1989, No. 172, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2013, No. 363, §1, eff. June 17, 2013.
 
RS 42:24
 
§24.  Voidability
Any action taken in violation of this Chapter shall be voidable by a court of competent jurisdiction.  A suit to void any action must be commenced within sixty days of the action.
Added by Acts 1972, No. 669, §2.  Amended by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1; Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:25
 
§25.  Enforcement
A.  The attorney general shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the state.  He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.
B.  Each district attorney shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the judicial district within which he serves.  He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.
C.  Any person who has been denied any right conferred by the provisions of this Chapter or who has reason to believe that the provisions of this Chapter have been violated may institute enforcement proceedings.
Added by Acts 1976, No. 665, §1.  Amended by Acts 1977, No. 707, §1; Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:26
 
§26. Remedies; jurisdiction; authority; attorney fees
            A. In any enforcement proceeding the plaintiff may seek and the court may grant any or all of the following forms of relief:
            (1) A writ of mandamus.
            (2) Injunctive relief.
            (3) Declaratory judgment.
            (4) Judgment rendering the action void as provided in R.S. 42:24.
            (5) Judgment awarding civil penalties as provided in R.S. 42:28.
            B. In any enforcement proceeding the court has jurisdiction and authority to issue all necessary orders to require compliance with, or to prevent noncompliance with, or to declare the rights of parties under the provisions of this Chapter. Any noncompliance with the orders of the court may be punished as contempt of court.
            C. If a party who brings an enforcement proceeding pursuant to R.S. 42:25 prevails, the party shall be awarded reasonable attorney fees and other costs of litigation. If such party prevails in part, the court may award the party reasonable attorney fees or an appropriate portion thereof.
            D. If the court finds that the proceeding was of a frivolous nature and was brought with no substantial justification, it may award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party.
            Added by Acts 1979, No. 681, §1. Acts 1989, No. 54, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2019, No. 340, §1.
 
RS 42:27
 
§27.  Venue; summary proceedings
A.  Enforcement proceedings shall be instituted in the district court for the parish in which the meeting took place or will take place.
B.  Enforcement proceedings shall be tried by preference and in a summary manner.  Any appellate court to which the proceeding is brought shall place it on its preferential docket, shall hear it without delay, and shall render a decision as soon as practicable.
Added by Acts 1979, No. 681, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23.
 
RS 42:28
 
§28. Civil penalties
            Any member of a public body who knowingly and wilfully participates in a meeting conducted in violation of this Chapter shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars per violation. The member shall be personally liable for the payment of such penalty. A suit to collect such penalty must be instituted within sixty days of the violation.
            Acts 1989, No. 54, §1; Acts 2010, No. 861, §23; Acts 2019, No. 340, §1.
 
RS 42:29 - §29. State Bond Commission; teleconference meetings – Not Applicable
 
 
 Open Meeting Law FAQs