North Dakota Open Records & Meetings Law Government in the Sunshine
Open Records • All records in possession of a public entity regarding public business are OPEN • North Dakota Constitution art. XI, sec. 6 • North Dakota Century Code 44-04-18 • Except as otherwise provided by law…
Exempt Records Release of records is left to discretion of public entity “Closed record” - the part of the exempt record that isn’t disclosed Confidential Records All or part of a record expressly declared confidential or prohibited from being open to the public Exempt or Confidential Records
Exempt Personal employee information Address Phone number Payroll deduction info Security system plan Economic development records 44-04-18.4(5) Confidential Social security numbers Employee medical records Computer passwords Employee use of employee assistance program records Examples
57-40.6-07 Use of the furnished information.Confidential information: • Unpublished names and telephone numbers generated by a 911 coordinator or 911 public safety answering point or provided to a 911 coordinator or public safety answering point under section 57-40.6-06 are confidential and may be used only for verifying the location or identity, or both, for response purposes, of a person calling a 911 answering point for emergency help or by the 911 coordinator or public safety answering point for the purpose of a public safety agency notifying a person of an emergency.
57-40.6-07 Use of the furnished information.Exempt information: • Published names and telephone numbers maintained by a 911 coordinator or public safety answering point are exempt records as defined in section 44-04-17.1 but must be provided upon request to the treasurer and auditor of the county served by the 911 coordinator for the purpose of verifying and correcting names and addresses used for official purposes.
57-40.6-07 Use of the furnished information.Exempt information: • A record obtained for the purpose of providing services in an emergency and which reveals the address of a person requesting emergency service or reporting an emergency by accessing an emergency telephone number 911 system is exempt from section 44-04-18 and may be redacted from the record before it is released.
Confidential Unpublished names & telephone numbers Exempt Published names & telephone numbers Address of person reporting an emergency 57-40.6-07
Records Generally Open • A personnel file - job performance evaluations and salary • Any document business related • Emails that are business related • Computer records • Physical form of the record is irrelevant
Don’t… • Require the request in writing • Require the name of the requestor • Ask why they want the records • Compile or create a new record • Stop normal office functions to fulfill the request
DO… • Communicate with the requestor if they are willing • Give a legal reason for any denial of records • Provide the records within a reasonable time • Redact any confidential information • Give the requestor an estimate of how long it will take to provide the records
Charging for copies • First hour locating - free, thereafter $25/hour • 25 ¢ per copy of a 8 x 11 or 8 x 14 page • Maps, color photos, etc. actual cost. • Actual cost of postage • First hour for redacting confidential information - free, thereafter $25/hour
Meetings - Governing Body • The multi-member body responsible for making a collective decision on behalf of a public entity. • Any time there is a quorum of a council together, it must be a public meeting preceded by public notice
COMMITTEES • “Governing body” also includes any group of persons, regardless of membership, acting collectively pursuant to authority delegated to that group by the governing body • Did the governing body delegate authority? • Don’t need authority to take final action
Examples of Meetings • Governing body attending a meeting of another group • School board retreat • On site inspection • Members talk business at a social gathering
More on meetings… • Conference calls are meetings • Cannot straw poll • Can attend social gatherings together • Public can video or audio tape the meeting • Right to attend is not the right to speak • Room has to accommodate the public
Posting of the Notice • At the public entity’s main office • With the appropriate central location: city auditor, county auditor, secretary of state • At the location of the meeting • Don’t have to publish the notice • Give notice to anyone who has requested it
What should the notice say? • Time, date, location of the meeting • Topics to be discussed • Notice of any executive session
Regular Agenda should contain all topics known at the time of drafting the notice May discuss items not on the agenda at the meeting Special meeting Can only discuss the items on the notice Provide notice to the official newspaper Kinds of Meetings
Meetings • A public entity may sequester all job competitors from the portion of the public meeting where interviews are conducted. • Requests for notice of meetings are good for one year unless a different time is requested. • 90 days to ask for an opinion based on allegations that a meeting occurred without notice • 30 days for an open records or other meeting violation
Executive Sessions-Reasons • To discuss CONFIDENTIAL information • To discuss EXEMPT information • Attorney consultation-advice from attorney re: adversarial administrative proceedings or pending civil/criminal litigation • Negotiation-discuss strategy or provide instructions. Adverse fiscal effect on bargaining position necessary • CANNOT close for PERSONNEL matters
Executive Sessions-Procedure • Convene in an open meeting • Motion necessary for exempt info, not for confidential info • Announce in open meeting the topics to be discussed and the legal authority • Record the session • Topics limited to those announced
Executive Sessions-Procedure • Final action must be taken in open meeting-except for instructions to negotiator or legal counsel • Minutes of open meeting must have names of those attending the executive session; date & time session began and ended; general topics; legal authority
More information • www.ag.nd.gov • Manual - is updated - new & improved • Opinions - on website from 1997 to present • Fact sheets - on website • Brochures • N.D.C.C. § 44-04-17.1