September 10, 2003
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
I have received your letter in which you indicated that your office routinely mails notices of meetings to "16 or so media contacts" in your vicinity. You asked whether notices of meetings must be mailed "by conventional source (US Post Office), or [whether] can they be emailed."
In this regard, although the Open Meetings Law requires that notice of meetings be given to the news media, it does not specify the manner in which notice must be given. Section 104 states in relevant part that:
"1. Public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least one week prior thereto shall be given to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at least seventy-two hours before such meeting.
2. Public notice of the time and place of every other meeting shall be given to the extent practicable, to the news media and shall be conspicuously posted in one or more designated public locations at a reasonable time prior thereto.
3. The public notice provided for by this section shall not be construed to require publication as a legal notice..."
Again, the law does not specify the means by which notice must be given. If, for example, an unscheduled meeting is to be held within a short time, it has been suggested that notice may be faxed to the news media. From my perspective, the use of e-mail to transmit information has become commonplace and widely accepted. That being so, I believe that notice regarding meetings of a public body can validly be given and accomplished through the use of e-mail.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman