New Open Meeting Law Requirements
July 2010

The Legislature made several changes to Arizona’s Open Meeting Law this year. These changes impact all public bodies and will take effect on July 29, 2010.

Notice Requirements for School Districts, Charter Schools, Other State and County Public Bodies, and Public Bodies of Cities and Towns

School districts, charter schools and other State and county public bodies previously had to file a statement with the Arizona Secretary of State indicating where the public notices of their meetings would be posted. They no longer need to do so. Instead, these public bodies now must:

  • “conspicuously post” on their websites a statement indicating the physical and electronic locations where meeting notices will be posted; and
  • post all meeting notices on their websites; and
  • provide “additional notice” of meetings as is “reasonable and practicable.”

A.R.S. § 38-431.02(A)(1) & (2).

The public bodies of cities and towns previously had to file a statement with the city clerk or mayor’s office indicating where they would post the public notices of their meetings. Cities and towns must now:

  • “conspicuously post” on their own websites or on the website of an association of cities and towns a statement indicating the physical and electronic locations where meeting notices will be posted; and
  • post all meeting notices on the city’s or town’s website or on a website of an association of cities and towns; and
  • provide “additional notice” of meetings as is “reasonable and practicable.”

A.R.S. § 38-431.02(A)(4).

Practice Pointer: The terms “conspicuously post” and “additional notice” are not defined. Therefore, public bodies must use their own judgment and common sense in complying with these new provisions. For example, the “additional notice” that is required likely depends on the issues to be discussed at the meeting. If a school district considers closing a school, it may want to provide notice of the meeting at which the closure is to be discussed to all of the parents of the students attending the affected school.

Notice Requirements for Special Districts

The change in the Open Meeting Law creates new notice requirements for special taxing districts formed pursuant to Title 48 of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Those special districts will now have the option of:

  • complying with the posting and notice requirements that will be applicable to other public bodies (posting a statement on their website indicating where meeting notices will be posted and posting public meeting notices on their website); or
  • filing a statement with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors indicating where notice of their meetings will be posted and giving additional notice of meetings as is reasonable and practicable.

A.R.S. § 38-431.02(A)(3).

Technological Problems

The Legislature anticipated that public bodies might have technological problems with their websites. To account for such problems, the law indicates that if a public body’s website experiences temporary or permanent technical difficulties that prevent the public body from posting a required meeting notice, it may still hold the meeting without violating the Open Meeting Law, as long as it has complied with all the other legal requirements. A.R.S. §§ 38-431.02(A)(1)(b), (2)(b), (3)(b) & (4)(b).

Practice Pointer: Although public bodies are no longer required to post meeting notices at a physical location, posting notices of meetings both physically and on-line is one way that public bodies can avoid having to postpone meetings in the event of a website problem.

Open Meeting Law Training Materials Requirements

There are also new requirements for the distribution and review of Open Meeting Law training materials. Previously, such materials were distributed directly to new members before they took office. Now these training materials, which are prepared and approved by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, must be conspicuously posted on the Arizona Secretary of State’s, municipal clerks’ and county clerks’ websites, and a newly-elected or newly-appointed member must review the materials at least one day before taking office. A.R.S. § 38-431.01(G).

Practice Pointer: Public bodies should make certain that new members locate and review the training materials before they begin their public service.

Click here to view this Client Alert as a PDF.

This Client Alert has been prepared by Lewis and Roca LLP for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Readers should seek professional legal advice on matters involving these issues.