Mississippi Open Meetings Act
The Mississippi Open Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 25, Chapter 41, Sections 1-17 of the Mississippi Code define the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Mississippi. For more information go the page or go to Mississippi sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)
We do not currently have any pages on open meetings litigation in Mississippi.
Proposed open meetings legislation
We do not currently have any legislation for Mississippi in 2010.
Statement of purposeThe statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
"It being essential to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government and to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner, and that citizens be advised of and be aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of Mississippi that the formation and determination of public policy is public business and shall be conducted at open meetings except as otherwise provided herein."
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law defines meeting as any official assembly of a public body in order to deliberate or decide on public policy. The definition includes meetings using electronic telecommunication equipment. However, the act does not apply to chance meetings or social gatherings.
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as all executive or policy making entities of the state and all political subdivisions including all committees or groups supported in part by public funds. The law explicitly includes all standing and interim committees of the legislature.
Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:
- The judiciary
- Hospital staffs and boards
- Law enforcement officials
- the military
- State Probation and Parole Board
- Workers' Compensation Commission
- Legislative subcommittees and conference committees
- Arbitration Council
- Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners for the purpose of disciplinary hearings
- State Tax Commission
The Mississippi Open Meetings Act includes the standing and interim committees of the legislature but explicitly exempts subcommittees and conference committees, under the definition found at Mississippi Statute 25-41-3.
The act requires all public bodies to establish a regular meetings schedule, and does not require further announcement for regular meetings. For special meetings, the act requires a 1 hour notice to be posted in a public location. The act requires all public agencies to provide 5 days notice for all meetings using teleconferencing. The notice must include the date and time of the meeting as well as the location of the meeting and any location at which the public can participate. In the case of an emergency, the act allows public bodies to meet using teleconferencing without providing prior notice.
Any agenda provided to the members of a public body, must be provided to the public in attendance as well. Minutes must be taken of all meetings and must include records of voting. Public agencies may also choose to record their meetings using either audio or video recording devices. Agencies are required to keep records of their meetings for 3 years. Minutes must be made available to the public within 30 days of the original meeting.
|Common executive session exemptions|
|Personal privacy (including employees)|
|Purchase or sale of property|
|Exempt under other laws|
All public bodies may convene executive sessions with a 3/5 vote of those members present. Executive sessions can be held for the following reasons:
- business and discussions relating to the job performance or character of a public employee
- Litigation strategy and information that would fall under the attorney-client privilege
- discussion of security matters
- bodies within the Legislature for any reason
- when dealing with information that could cause harm to an individual or property
- discussing the purchase or sale of land
- discussions with students or parents of students
- test preparation for licensing examinations
- discussions of the relocation or expansion of a business
- line item budget items that result in the termination of an employee
- discussing records exempt under the Mississippi Public Records Act
Individuals must file complaints with the Mississippi Ethics Commission. The Commission will notify the public body and the body must respond within 14 days. Based on the response or lack thereof the commission can dismiss the complaint or hold hearings. If the commission finds a violation of the law, it may impose fines of up to $100. Individuals may appeal the decisions of the commission to the chancery courts.
Senate Bill 2373
Senate Bill 2373 would alter the Mississippi Open Meetings Act by increasing the jurisdiction of the courts and expanding the potential penalties for violations to include rendering actions null and void, assessing fines of up to $1000 per violation and assessing court and legal fees to public agencies who have violated the act.
State of Mississippi
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Education | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce | Executive Director of Environmental Quality | Executive Director of Employment Security | Chairman of Public Service Commission |