Arkansas Open Meetings Law

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The Arkansas Open Meetings Law is a part of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Statutes 25-19-101 through 25-19-109 of the State code define the law. The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states: "It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that the electors shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in making public policy. Toward this end, this chapter is adopted, making it possible for them or their representatives to learn and to report fully the activities of their public officials."[1].

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Arkansas. For more information go to Arkansas sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)

Lawsuit Year
Rehabilitation Hospital Services Corporation v. Delta-Hills Health Systems, Agency, Inc. 1985

Proposed open meetings legislation


See also: Proposed transparency legislation, Open meetings legislation

We do not currently have any legislation for Arkansas in 2010.

Which government meetings are open to the public?

The law states that all meetings, whether formal or informal are required to be open to the public unless established by statutory exemption.[1]

What government bodies are subject to the laws?

The act defines government bodies subject to the law as all branches of the state and all political subdivisions and all bodies which are supported through public funds.[1]

Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:

  • Grand juries[1]

==== Legislature====


The Arkansas Open Meetings Law is ambiguous as to whether or not the law applies to the legislature. While the definition of public body found within the law appears to include the legislature, the constitution and other statutes permit the legislature to enter executive session whenever they feel it is required.[2]

Notice requirements

The law requires all public bodies to furnish the time and place of their meetings to anyone who requests them. For emergency or special meetings, the public body is required to notify all local news agencies two hours prior to the meeting of the time and location of the meeting.[1]

Meeting process

The law does not establish a clear procedure for meeting minutes, but leaves it to the discretion of the state agencies and municipalities.

Executive sessions

Common executive session exemptions
Personal privacy (including employees)Yes.pngp
Attorney-client privilege/litigation
Security/police informationYes.pngp
Purchase or sale of property
Union negotiations
Licensing exams/decisionsYes.pngp
Exempt under other laws

Executive sessions are only permitted for the following reasons:

  • to consider employee evaluations, including potential employment, promotion, demotion, and discipline.
  • Only the board itself, the employee in question and his or her supervisor and the top administrator of the department can be present at an executive session.
  • to prepare materials in order to apply for state and federal licenses
  • to discuss public water system security[1]

Voting cannot occur in an executive session. All decisions made during the executive session are required to come before the board and be voted on in an opened meeting.[1]

If violated

Violation of the open meetings law is considered a class c misdemeanor. Further, the court has a right to assess attorney fees against the defendants but cannot charge fees against the state. If the lawsuit was frivolous, then the court may charge attorney's fees to the plaintiff.[1]

See also

External links