Citations Affected: IC 5-14-1.5.
Synopsis: Open door law violations. Provides that absent express
statutory authorization, a member of a governing body who is not
physically present at a meeting but communicates with board members
during the meeting by telephone, computer, videoconferencing, or any
other electronic means of communication may not participate or be
considered to be present at the meeting. 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 held for the purpose of conducting
Effective: July 1, 2005.
January 6, 2005, 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.
CODE AS A NEW SECTION TO READ AS FOLLOWS
[EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2005]: 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 by 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 chapter;
(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.
following factors outweighs the other:
(A) The remedial benefits gained by effectuating the public policy of the state declared in section 1 of this chapter.
(B) The prejudice likely to accrue to the public if the policy, decision, or final action is voided, including the extent to which persons have relied upon the validity of the challenged action and the effect declaring the challenged action void would have on them.
(4) Whether the defendant acted in compliance with an informal inquiry response or advisory opinion issued by the public access counselor concerning the violation.
(e) If a court declares a policy, decision, or final action of a governing body of a public agency void, the court may enjoin the governing body from subsequently acting upon the subject matter of the voided act until it has been given substantial reconsideration at a 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.