Arizona's Open Meeting Law
It is the public policy of this state that meetings of public bodies be conducted openly and that notices and agendas be provided for such meetings which contain such information as is reasonably necessary to inform the public of the matters to be discussed or decided. Accordingly, Arizona’s Open Meeting Law must be construed in favor of open and public meetings.
Meeting Notices, Agendas, and Minutes are often available on the public bodies’ website.
What is a meeting?
A meeting is defined as a gathering, in person or through technological devices, of a quorum of members of a public body at which they discuss, propose, or take legal action. This includes any gathering, regardless of its label that falls within this definition. Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 38-431(4).
What is a public body?
A public body means the legislature, all boards and commissions of this state or political subdivision, all multi-member governing bodies of departments, agencies, institutions and instrumentalities of the state or political subdivisions, including without limitation all corporations and other instrumentalities whose boards of directors are appointed or elected by the state or political subdivision. Includes all quasi-judicial bodies and all standing, special or advisory committees or subcommittees of, or appointed by, such public body. Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 38-431(6).
What is a quorum?
A quorum is a majority of the members of the public body unless otherwise provided by law. For purposes of computing whether a quorum is present, vacancies must be included unless otherwise provided for by law.
May board members discuss issues or express opinions to the public outside a properly noticed meeting?
Yes. Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 38-431.09 clarifies that if a member of a public body individually expresses an opinion or discusses an issue with the public, through public broadcast or at a venue other than a public meeting, the member is not in violation of the open meeting law, if the opinion is not directed at another public official and there is no concerted plan to engage in collective deliberation to take legal action.
May the public body prevent members of the public from speaking at a public meeting?
Yes. The open meeting law does not require that a public body offer a call to the public. The public has a right to attend meetings, not participate in meetings. Ariz. Att’y Gen. Op. 78-1. If the public body allows a call to the public, the public body determines when attendees may address the public body and may place time restrictions.
In addition, the public body may not discuss or take action on matters raised during the call to the public that are not specifically identified on the agenda, but may respond to criticism, ask staff to review a matter, or ask that a matter be placed on a future agenda.
May a board member ask the staff to review a matter raised by a member of the public during the call to the public even if it was not an agenda item?
Yes. At the end of the call to the public, public officials may ask staff to review a matter, or ask that a matter raised by a member of the public be put on a future agenda.