"Oregon Public Meetings and Public Records Law were enacted by the Oregon legislature in 1973. These laws underscore the state's policy that the public is entitled to know how the public's business is conducted. Thus the written record of the conduct of the public's business is, with some important exceptions, available to any citizen. Similarly, the deliberations and decisions by public bodies are, for the most part, open to attendance by any interested person." Attorney General's Public Records and Meetings Manual, January, 2004.
Public body is every state officer, agency, department, division, bureau, board and commission; every county and city governing body, school district, special district, municipal corporation, and any board, department, commission, council, or agency thereof; and any other public agency of this state.
A governing body is two or more members of a public body who have the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration. A group without power of decision is a governing body when authorized to make recommendations to a public body, but not when the recommendations go to individual public officials.
A public meeting is the convening of any governing body for which a quorum is required to make or deliberate toward a decision on any matter, or to gather information. Decisions must be made in public, and secret ballots are prohibited. Quorum requirements may vary among governing bodies.
Meeting accomplished by telephone conference calls or other electronic means are considered public meetings. Governing bodies must hold their meetings within the geographic boundaries of their jurisdiction. However, a governing body may meet elsewhere if there is an actual emergency requiring immediate action or to hold a training session, when no deliberation toward a decision is involved.
Notice of Meetings
Governing bodies must give notice of the time, place and agenda for any regular, special or emergency meeting. Public notice must be reasonably calculated to give actual notice to interested persons and media who have asked in writing to be notified of meetings and general notice to the public at large. Adequate notice to ensure that those wishing to attend are able should be a week to ten days.
At least 24-hour notice to members of the governing body, the public and media is required for any special meeting, unless the meeting is considered an emergency meeting. However, notice for emergency meetings must also cite the emergency.
A meeting notice must include a list of the principal subjects to be considered at the meeting. This list should be specific enough to permit those wishing to attend to recognize matters of interest. However, discussion of subjects not on the agenda is allowed at the meeting.
Written minutes are required for all minutes, except tape recordings are allowed for executive sessions. Public Meetings Law states that minutes must be made available within a "reasonable time" after each meeting, but does not specify the time. Minutes must be preserved for a reasonable time (generally a year). Minutes of many governing bodies are subject to records retention schedules established by the State Archivist.
Minutes must include:
All motions, proposals, resolutions, orders, ordinances and measures proposed or their disposition
The result of all votes by name of each member (except for public bodies consisting of more than 25 members); no secret ballots are allowed
The substance of discussion on any matter
A reference to any document discussed at the meeting
Minutes are not required to be verbatim transcript and the meeting does not have to be tape recorded unless so specified by law. Minutes are public record and may not be withheld from the public merely because they will not be approved until the next meeting.
Minutes from executive sessions are exempt from disclosure under the Oregon Public Records Law. Governing bodies are allowed to exclude the public, but not the media. Executive sessions are allowed only for very limited purposes:1. To consider the initial employment of a public officer, employee or staff member, but not to fill the vacancy in an elected office or on public advisory groups.2. To consider dismissal, discipline, complaints or chares against a public official, employee, official, staff or individual agent, unless that person requests a public hearing.3. To review and evaluate job performance of a chief executive officer or other officer of staff member, unless that person requests a public hearing.4. To deliberate with persons designated to conduct labor negotiations (the media may be excluded from these sessions).5. To conduct labor negotiations if both sides request that negotiations be in executive session.6. To consider records that are exempt by law from public disclosure.7. To consult with counsel concerning litigation filed or likely to be filed against a public body (members of the medial that are a party to that litigation or represent a media entity that is a party may be excluded).8. To consult with persons designated to negotiate real property transactions.