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Legislature OKs Exemptions to Open Meetings Act |

Legislature Approves Therriault Bill to Exempt Some Service Area Decisions From Open Meetings Act

JUNEAU – By a vote of 35-4, the Alaska House of Representatives on Friday passed SB 48, providing an exemption to the Open Meetings Act for all municipal boards, commissions, and committees meeting solely to administer and manage existing policy. A public meeting which includes discussion and action on policy matters, such as contract negotiations or setting service area tax rates, will still require public notice.

“Senate Bill 48 makes a distinction in the Open Meetings Act between the meetings of boards or committees that are meeting strictly to administer a policy, as opposed to those meetings which discuss and set public policy,” Therriault said. “For example, if we have a road washout or a heavy dump of snow, road commission members need to be able to deal with the problem, that is, to administer a previously decided policy, without being in violation of the Open Meetings Act.”

SB 48 also clarifies an abnormality in state law regarding the definition of a “meeting.” Currently, meeting requirements for advisory bodies are more stringent than those for policy setting bodies. SB 48 places the same open meetings requirements on advisory bodies as are on government agencies authorized to establish public policy.

The bill is awaiting transmittal to the Governor for her signature. It will take effect 90 days after it is signed.

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