South Carolina Open Meetings Law
The South Carolina Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 30 Chapter 4 of the South Carolina Code of Laws defines the law.
Relevant legal cases
- See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA
Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in South Carolina. For more information go the page or go to South Carolina 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 South Carolina.
Proposed open meetings legislation
We do not currently have any legislation for South Carolina in 2010.
Statement of purposeThe statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
"The General Assembly finds that it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that citizens shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in the formulation of public policy. Toward this end, provisions of this chapter must be construed so as to make it possible for citizens, or their representatives, to learn and report fully the activities of their public officials at a minimum cost or delay to the persons seeking access to public documents or meetings."
Which government meetings are open to the public?
The law states that a meeting is the convening of a quorum of the members of a public body, for the purposes of discussing and deciding on public business.
Notable exemptions to this definition include:
What government bodies are subject to the laws?
The act defines government body as any agency of the state or a political subdivision and any agency which is supported in part by public funds or dispenses public funds. The act explicitly includes the executive branch including the Governor's cabinet as well as the South Carolina Public Service Authority and the South Carolina State Ports Authority and committees of health care facilities.
The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at South Carolina Statute 30-4-20 and is subject to the South Carolina Open Meetings Law.
The act requires all public bodies to post notice of their regular meetings at the start of each calendar year. The act also requires that the public body post an agenda 24 hours prior to the meeting. All rescheduled or special meetings require at least a 24 hour notice. Legislative committees are only required to post notice for weekly meetings during weeks of regular session. Public bodies are required to post notice in their main office and provide notice to any individuals or news agencies who have requested notification of public meetings.
The act requires that all public bodies take minutes of meetings, including the time and date of the meeting, the members in attendance, the subjects discussed and any votes taken. These minutes are considered public records and must be made available to the public within a reasonable amount of time. THe public also has a right to record any portion of a public meeting using either audio or video recording devices.
|Common executive session exemptions|
|Personal privacy (including employees)|
|Purchase or sale of property|
|Exempt under other laws|
Public bodies may hold executive sessions with a majority vote for the following reasons:
- to discuss employment, promotion, discipline or termination of an employee or student at a state institution
- negotiations with regard to labor contracts or the sale or purchase of property including any information that falls under the attorney-client privilege regarding pending litigation
- security information
- investigations of alleged misconduct
- proposed location or expansion of industry in order to protect trade secrets
- Retirement System Investment Commission for purposes pursuant to Section 9-16-80(A) or 9-16-320(C) of the state code
No final action can be taken during an executive session.
Any citizen of the state can bring action against a public body who has violated the law. If the court finds a violation, it may award attorney fees to the plaintiff and may assess fines of up to $100 or 30 days in jail or $200 or 60 days in jail for subsequent offenses.
State of South Carolina
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Comptroller General | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Education | Director of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Director of Natural Resources | Director of Labor, Licensing and Regulation | Chairman of Public Service Commission |