Utah Open and Public Meetings Act

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The Utah Open and Public Meetings Act legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 52, chapter 4 of the Utah 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 Utah. For more information go the page or go to Utah 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 Utah.


Proposed open meetings legislation

2010

See also Proposed transparency legislation, Open meetings legislation


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


Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
"(1) The Legislature finds and declares that the state, its agencies and political subdivisions, exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business.
(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the state, its agencies, and its political subdivisions:
(a) take their actions openly; and
(b) conduct their deliberations openly."[1]

Which government meetings are open to the public?

The law states that a meeting is a gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body, either in person or through electronic methods, with the intention of discussing or deciding on public policy.[2] The law requires that all meetings must be open to the public, unless exempted under executive sessions.[3]

Notable exemptions to this definition include:

  • Chance meetings or social gatherings
  • the convening of a body with legislative and executive power where no public funds are expropriated and which is "convened solely for the discussion or implementation of administrative or operational matters" which do not require a formal vote and which would not need to be presented before the public[2]

What government bodies are subject to the laws?

The act defines public body as "any administrative, advisory, executive, or legislative body of the state or its political subdivisions"

"(i) is created by the Utah Constitution, statute, rule, ordinance, or resolution;
(ii) consists of two or more persons;
(iii) expends, disburses, or is supported in whole or in part by tax revenue; and
(iv) is vested with the authority to make decisions regarding the public's business."[4]

==== Legislature====

Yes.pngp

The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at Utah Code 52-4-103 and is subject to the Utah Open and Public Meetings Act.

Notice requirements

The act requires all bodies to provide 24 hours notice, including the time and place of the meeting and a proposed agenda. This notice must be posted in a conspicuous location in the public bodies main office and must be sent to a local newspaper and all media outlets who have requested notice. In addition, public bodies must schedule their regular meetings at least once per year. The act allows emergency meetings to be held with less than 24 hours notice assuming that every attempt has been made to contact the media and notify the public.[5]

Meeting process

The act requires detailed minutes to be taken of all meetings, to include the time and date of the meeting, members in attendance, subjects discussed and votes taken, as well as records of anyone who has given testimony to the public body. The written minutes and a recording of an open meeting must be made available to the public within a reasonable amount of time, and the recording must be made available within 3 days.[6]

Executive sessions

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

Executive sessions can be held with a 2/3 vote for the following reasons[7]:

  • "discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of an individual"
  • Collective bargaining strategy
  • litigation strategy and the attorney-client privilege
  • to discuss the purchase or sale of property
  • security information
  • investigations of criminal misconduct
  • discussing commercial information and trade secrets[8]

No final action can be taken during an executive session.[7] The act requires that the public body takes detailed minutes and makes an audio recording of all closed sessions. The minutes and recordings may be requested by the courts for in camera reviews if the validity of the closed meeting is called into question.[9]

If violated

The attorney general or any individual may take action against a public body for violating the open meetings law. If the court finds a violation, it may assess reasonable attorney fees[10] and fines associated with a class B misdemeanor[11]. A court may also void any action taken at a meeting in violation of the law. A suit to void any action relating to the issuance of bonds, notes must be taken within 30 days of the original meeting. All other actions to void a decision by a public body must be taken within 90 days.[12]

See also

External links

References