September 16, 2009
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
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 raised a question concerning the notice requirements imposed by the Open Meetings Law. Specifically, you referred to the requirement that notice be given at least seventy-hours prior to a meeting scheduled at least a week in advance and asked whether “the notice must be in print for the entire 72 hours or just notice given within 72 hours prior to the meeting.”
Assuming that you are referring to the requirement that notice be given to the news media, I point out that subdivision (3) of §104 of the Open Meetings Law specifies that a public body is not required to pay to place a legal notice in a newspaper prior to a meeting. Notice must merely be “given” to the news media; whether a newspaper, for example, chooses to print notice of a meeting is within the discretion of its management. In my view, the State Legislature intended to ensure that the Open Meetings Law would not create financial hardship to public bodies or newspapers, and the provision indicating that notice of a meeting need not be legal notice is intended to ensure that public bodies should not have to pay place a legal notice in a newspaper prior to every meeting. In terms of the news media, in many instances, there may be hundreds of public bodies within the coverage area of a newspaper, and requiring a newspaper to print notices of meetings relating to perhaps dozens of meetings on a particular day would be financially burdensome.
In short, I do not believe that the Legislature intended to force public bodies to publish notice of their meetings or to require newspapers to publish notice of meeting.
I hope that the foregoing serves to clarify your understanding and that I have been of assistance.