Citations Affected: IC 5-14-1.5.
Synopsis: Serial meeting violation of open door law. Provides that a
series of gatherings by the governing body of a state or local
government agency violates the open door law if: (1) less than a
quorum of members of the governing body attend each gathering; (2)
the total number of members attending all gatherings constitutes at
least a quorum of the governing body; and (3) the gatherings are
conducted for the purpose of conducting official business.
Effective: July 1, 2004.
January 12, 2004, read first time and referred to Committee on Governmental Affairs and
A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning state
and local administration.
SECTION 1. IC 5-14-1.5-3.1 IS ADDED TO THE INDIANA
CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS
[EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2004]: Sec. 3.1. (a) A governing body violates
this chapter if the governing body conducts a series of at least two
(2) gatherings of members of the governing body that fulfill the
(1) Each gathering is attended by less than a quorum of the members of the governing body.
(2) The sum of the members of the governing body who attend the gatherings constitutes at least a quorum of the governing body.
(3) A member attends a gathering in person, by intermediary, by telephone, or other electronic means.
(4) The gatherings are held for the purpose of taking official action on public business.
(b) A gathering under subsection (a) does not include:
(1) a social or chance gathering not intended to avoid this
(2) an on-site inspection of any project or program;
(3) traveling to and attending meetings of organizations devoted to betterment of government; or
(4) a caucus.
(c) A violation described in subsection (a) is subject to section 7 of this chapter.
SECTION 2. IC 5-14-1.5-7, AS AMENDED BY P.L.191-1999, SECTION 1, IS AMENDED TO READ AS FOLLOWS [EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2004]: Sec. 7. (a) An action may be filed by any person in any court of competent jurisdiction to:
(1) obtain a declaratory judgment;
(2) enjoin continuing, threatened, or future violations of this chapter; or
(3) declare void any policy, decision, or final action:
(A) taken at an executive session in violation of section 3(a) of this chapter;
(B) taken at any meeting of which notice is not given in accordance with section 5 of this chapter;
(C) that is based in whole or in part upon official action taken at any:
(i) executive session in violation of section 3(a) of this chapter;
or at any
meeting of which notice is not given in accordance with
section 5 of this chapter; or
(iii) series of gatherings in violation of section 3.1 of this chapter;
(D) taken at a meeting held in a location in violation of section 8 of this chapter.
The plaintiff need not allege or prove special damage different from that suffered by the public at large.
(b) Regardless of whether a formal complaint or an informal inquiry is pending before the public access counselor, any action to declare any policy, decision, or final action of a governing body void, or to enter an injunction which would invalidate any policy, decision, or final action of a governing body, based on violation of this chapter occurring before the action is commenced, shall be commenced:
(1) prior to the delivery of any warrants, notes, bonds, or obligations if the relief sought would have the effect, if granted, of invalidating the notes, bonds, or obligations; or
(2) with respect to any other subject matter, within thirty (30) days of either:
meeting or meetings that comply with this chapter.
(f) In any action filed under this section, a court shall award reasonable attorney's fees, court costs, and other reasonable expenses of litigation to the prevailing party if:
(1) the plaintiff prevails; or
(2) the defendant prevails and the court finds that the action is frivolous and vexatious.
The plaintiff is not eligible for the awarding of attorney's fees, court costs, and other reasonable expenses if the plaintiff filed the action without first seeking and receiving an informal inquiry response or advisory opinion from the public access counselor, unless the plaintiff can show the filing of the action was necessary to prevent a violation of this chapter.
(g) A court shall expedite the hearing of an action filed under this section.