Media Law Handbook

Open Meetings


7. What are other important features of the Open Meetings Law?
5. What rules govern closed sessions, and what sessions may be closed?

6. How does the law apply to the N.C. General Assembly?

The Open Meetings Law makes special provision for the “commissions, committees, and standing subcommittees” of the General Assembly. (In this section, these groups will be labeled “legislative public bodies.”) In some respects, the special rules for legislative public bodies parallel the rules that apply to other public bodies, but some of the General Assembly provisions differ in important ways from those otherwise applicable.

Legislative “commissions, committees, and standing subcommittees.” Each house of the General Assembly is obviously a public body because each is an elected body with two or more members that exercises a legislative function. Therefore, each committee and subcommittee of each house is also a public body. The General Assembly routinely establishes study commissions to work in the interim between legislative sessions, and they too qualify as public bodies under the Open Meetings Law because they are delegated authority by the legislature. The phrase “commissions, committees, and standing subcommittees” also includes 10 bodies specifically named in the law. They range from the Legislative Services and Legislative Research commissions to a variety of standing oversight and study groups.

Official meetings. The general statutory definition of official meetings specifically does not apply to legislative public bodies, and no replacement definition is set out. Presumably this means that “official meetings” of such entities are those meetings that most naturally fit the quoted language: meetings that are called and held pursuant to established rules and procedures. Informal gatherings of a majority of a legislative public body’s members, then, would not be official meetings of that entity. If the sole subject of discussion were the business of the public body and the purpose of the informal meeting were to evade the Open Meetings Law, the meeting would violate the Open Meetings Law.

Public notice. The general rules for public notice also do not apply to legislative public bodies. Rather, such bodies are required to provide “reasonable public notice,” which is defined to include notice given openly on the floor of the Senate or House or, alternatively, notice posted on the press room door at the State Legislative Building and also delivered to the Legislative Services Office.

Closed sessions. All the closed session authorizations apply to legislative public bodies (although it is hard to see much occasion for their use by such public bodies), but legislative public bodies may take final action only in open session.

7. What are other important features of the Open Meetings Law?
5. What rules govern closed sessions, and what sessions may be closed?

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