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Open Meeting Law Summary

The Open Meeting Law (OML) requires that meetings of governmental bodies, including committees and subcommittees, generally be open to the public. The law contains certain exceptions.

The OML applies to both state and local government. However, by its nature, the OML applies only to multi-member bodies. Decisions made by a single agency commissioner are not made at a "meeting," and thus are not subject to the open meeting law. Because most major state agencies are headed by a single commissioner, the OML has limited applicability to state government.

The table below summarizes the Open Meeting Law. Minn. Stat. ch. 13D.

Requirement for open meetings Meetings of governmental bodies, including committees and subcommittees, and Minnesota nonprofits created by the government must be open to the public

Notice of meetings must be given; relevant materials must be publicly available

Groups covered by the law
  • Applies only to multi-member bodies
  • Applies only to a quorum or more of a group
  • Applies whether or not action is taken or contemplated
Exceptions Limited exception based on attorney client privilege, labor negotiations, and employee evaluations

Doesn't apply to state agency, board, or commission when exercising quasi-judicial functions involving disciplinary hearings

Relation to Data Practices Act Meetings generally must be open, even when discussing private data. However, meetings must be closed if discussing certain data specified in statute (e.g. certain educational, health, or welfare data)

A separate law requires that legislative meetings be open to the public.

The OML that applies to state and local agencies does not apply to the legislature. However, the legislature has adopted a separate law that requires meetings of legislative bodies to be open to the public. The law applies to House and Senate floor sessions, to all committee and subcommittee meetings, and to conference committees. It does not apply to a caucus of the members of any of those bodies from the same house and political party, nor to a delegation of legislators representing a geographic area. Unlike the OML that applies to state and local agencies, the law governing the legislature provides that a meeting occurs only when action is taken. Minn. Stat. sec. 3.055.

November 2008

Access to Government

For additional information: see Minnesota Open Meeting Law – a 13-page publication discussing the groups and types of meetings covered by the open meeting law and reviewing the requirements and exceptions to the law. November 2008.

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