Montana Open Meetings Law

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The Montana Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Part 2, section 3 of the Montana 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 Montana. For more information go the page or go to Montana 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 Montana.


Proposed open meetings legislation

2010

See also Proposed transparency legislation, Open meetings legislation


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


Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
" The legislature finds and declares that public boards, commissions, councils, and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the peoples' business. It is the intent of this part that actions and deliberations of all public agencies shall be conducted openly. The people of the state do not wish to abdicate their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. Toward these ends, the provisions of the part shall be liberally construed."[1]

Which government meetings are open to the public?

The law defines meeting as any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body, including the use of electronic equipment, so as to deliberate and decide on public policy.[2]

What government bodies are subject to the laws?

The act defines government body as all public agencies of either the state or any of the political subdivisions that are either funded through public funds or dispense public funds, including the Supreme Court.[3]

==== Legislature====

Yes.pngp

The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at Montana statute 2-3-203 and is subject to the Montana Open Meetings Law. In addition, the Montana Constitution requires that "The sessions of the legislature and the committee of the whole, all committee meetings, and all hearings shall be open to the public" without exception.[4]

Notice requirements

The act does not specify a time-line for notice but requires that all public agencies allow sufficient notice so as to permit public participation. This requirement can be meet by placing an add in the local media or holding an open public hearing about the question.[5]

Meeting process

The act requires all public bodies to record and make available minutes of meetings, including all public officials in attendance, subjects discussed and any votes taken.[6]Public agencies cannot prevent the media from photographing and recording public meetings.[7]

Executive sessions

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

The act permits the chairperson to close an open session for a number of reasons, including:

  • To discuss matters of a personal nature, assuming the individual in question has not waived his right to privacy
  • for materials associated with the attorney-client privilege, in order to discuss pending litigation, this exemption does not apply to litigation between public agencies
  • Courts may close meetings for judicial deliberations[3]

If violated

Anyone may bring action against a public body who has violated the open meetings law. If a court finds a violation it may void any action taken at the meeting in violation, if the action was commenced within 30 days of the meeting.[8] Courts may also award attorney fees.[9]


See also

External links

References