H. B. 2747
(By Delegates Morgan, Stephens, Caputo and Craig)
[Introduced February 27, 2013; referred to the
Committee on Government Organization then the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §6-9A-2 and §6-9A-3 of the Code of West
Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to Open Governmental
Proceedings; defining terms; clarifying existing notice
requirements; requiring agencies to electronically file public
meeting notices with the Secretary of State for publication on
Secretary of State's website; eliminating the requirement that
state agency meeting notices be filed in the State Register;
specifying that agency rules on filing notices comply with the
Open Governmental Proceedings Act and Ethics Commission
Committee on Open Governmental Meetings opinions; and
providing procedural rule-making authority.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §6-9A-2 and §6-9A-3 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931,
as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 9A. OPEN GOVERNMENTAL PROCEEDINGS.
As used in this article:
(1) "Decision" means any determination, action, vote or final
disposition of a motion, proposal, resolution, order, ordinance or
measure on which a vote of the governing body is required at any
meeting at which a quorum is present.
(2) "Emergency meeting" means any meeting called for the
purpose of addressing an unexpected event which requires immediate
attention because it poses:
_____(A) A threat to public health or safety;
_____(B) A threat of damage to public or personal property; or
_____(C) A potential material financial loss or other potential
substantial harm to a public agency.
(2) (3) "Executive session" means any meeting or part of a
meeting of a governing body which is closed to the public.
(3) (4) "Governing body" means the members of any public
agency having the authority to make decisions for or
recommendations to a public agency on policy or administration, the
membership of a governing body consists of two or more members; for
the purposes of this article, a governing body of the Legislature
is any standing, select or special committee, except the commission
on special investigations, as determined by the rules of the
respective houses of the Legislature.
(4) (5) "Meeting" means the convening of a governing body of a public agency for which a quorum is required in order to make a
decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter which
results in an official action. Meetings may be held by telephone
conference or other electronic means. The term meeting does not
(A) Any meeting for the purpose of making an adjudicatory
decision in any quasi-judicial, administrative or Court of Claims
(B) Any on-site inspection of any project or program;
(C) Any political party caucus;
(D) General discussions among members of a governing body on
issues of interest to the public when held in a planned or
unplanned social, educational, training, informal, ceremonial or
similar setting, without intent to conduct public business even if
a quorum is present and public business is discussed but there is
no intention for the discussion to lead to an official action; or
(E) Discussions by members of a governing body on logistical
and procedural methods to schedule and regulate a meeting.
(5) (6) "Official action" means action which is taken by
virtue of power granted by law, ordinance, policy, rule, or by
virtue of the office held.
(6) (7) "Public agency" means any administrative or
legislative unit of state, county or municipal government,
including any department, division, bureau, office, commission, authority, board, public corporation, section, committee,
subcommittee or any other agency or subunit of the foregoing,
authorized by law to exercise some portion of executive or
legislative power. The term "public agency" does not include
courts created by article eight of the West Virginia Constitution
or the system of family law masters created by article four,
chapter forty-eight-a of this code.
(7) (8) "Quorum" means the gathering of a simple majority of
the constituent membership of a governing body, unless applicable
law provides for varying the required ratio.
(9) "Regular meeting" means a meeting at which the regular
business of the public is conducted.
_____(10) "Special meeting" means a meeting of a governing body
other than a regular meeting or an emergency meeting.
§6-9A-3. Proceedings to be open; public notice of meetings.
(a) Except as expressly and specifically otherwise provided by
law, whether heretofore or hereinafter enacted, and except as
provided in section four of this article, all meetings of any
governing body shall be open to the public.
(b) Any governing body may make and enforce reasonable rules
for attendance and presentation at any meeting where there is not
room enough for all members of the public who wish to attend.
(c) This article does not prohibit the removal from a meeting
of any member of the public who is disrupting the meeting to the extent that orderly conduct of the meeting is compromised:
Provided, That persons who desire to address the governing body may
not be required to register to address the body more than fifteen
minutes prior to time the scheduled meeting is to commence.
(d) Each governing body shall promulgate rules by which the
date, time, place and agenda of all regularly scheduled meetings
and the date, time, place and purpose of all special meetings are
made available, in advance, to the public and news media.
the event of an emergency requiring immediate official action.(e) Each governing body of the executive branch of the state
shall electronically file a notice of
any each meeting with the
Secretary of State for publication in the state register on the
Secretary of State's website.
(1) Each notice shall state the date, time, place and purpose
of the meeting.
(2) Each notice of a special meeting or a regular meeting
shall be filed in a manner to allow each notice to appear
state register on the Secretary of State's website at least five
calendar days prior to the date of the meeting.
(3) When calculating the days, the day of the meeting is not
to be counted. If a meeting notice is filed anytime other than
during the Secretary of State's regular business hours, the date of
filing will be considered the next business day.
_____(f) The Secretary of State shall retain copies of all notices
filed for ten years.
(g) The Secretary of State may promulgate procedural rules
governing the electronic filing of meeting notices.
(h) In the event of an emergency
requiring immediate official
action, any governing body of the executive branch of the state may
file an emergency meeting notice at any time prior to the meeting.a governing body may call an emergency meeting.
(1) The governing body of a state executive branch agency
shall electronically file a notice for an emergency meeting with
the Secretary of State, as soon as practicable prior to the
meeting. Any other governing body shall file a notice for an
emergency meeting in a manner which is consistent with this article
and the Ethics Commission Committee on Open Governmental Meeting's
opinions issued pursuant to the authority of section ten of this
article, as soon as practicable prior to the meeting.
_____(2) The emergency meeting notice shall state the date, time,
place and purpose of the meeting and the facts and circumstances of
(i) Upon petition by any adversely affected party any court of
competent jurisdiction may invalidate any action taken at any
meeting for which notice did not comply with the requirements of
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to define the terms
"special", "regular" and "emergency meetings". The bill requires
state agencies to file meeting notices electronically with the
Secretary of State instead of requiring publication in the State
Register. The bill's filing change does not materially alter the
amount of advance notice given to the public as the meeting notices
will be, as they now are, available for review on the Secretary of
State's website. The bill allows agencies more flexibility in
scheduling meetings as they will not be required to meet the
Secretary of State's internal filing deadlines. The bill also
provides rule-making authority.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from
the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would