HB2401: Virginia Freedom of Information Act; minutes of closed meetings required, audio recordings.

HOUSE BILL NO. 2401

Offered January 18, 2017
A BILL to amend and reenact § 2.2-3712 of the Code of Virginia, relating to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act; minutes of closed meetings required; audio recordings.
Patron-- Morris

Committee Referral Pending

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 2.2-3712 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 2.2-3712. Closed meetings procedures; certification of proceedings.

A. No closed meeting shall be held unless the public body proposing to convene such meeting has taken an affirmative recorded vote in an open meeting approving a motion that (i) identifies the subject matter, (ii) states the purpose of the meeting and (iii) makes specific reference to the applicable exemption from open meeting requirements provided in § 2.2-3707 or subsection A of § 2.2-3711. The matters contained in such motion shall be set forth in detail in the minutes of the open meeting. A general reference to the provisions of this chapter, the authorized exemptions from open meeting requirements, or the subject matter of the closed meeting shall not be sufficient to satisfy the requirements for holding a closed meeting.

B. The notice provisions of this chapter shall not apply to closed meetings of any public body held solely for the purpose of interviewing candidates for the position of chief administrative officer. Prior to any such closed meeting for the purpose of interviewing candidates, the public body shall announce in an open meeting that such closed meeting shall be held at a disclosed or undisclosed location within 15 days thereafter.

C. The public body holding a closed meeting shall restrict its discussion during the closed meeting only to those matters specifically exempted from the provisions of this chapter and identified in the motion required by subsection A.

D. At the conclusion of any closed meeting, the public body holding such meeting shall immediately reconvene in an open meeting and shall take a roll call or other recorded vote to be included in the minutes of that body, certifying that to the best of each member's knowledge (i) only public business matters lawfully exempted from open meeting requirements under this chapter and (ii) only such public business matters as were identified in the motion by which the closed meeting was convened were heard, discussed or considered in the meeting by the public body. Any member of the public body who believes that there was a departure from the requirements of clauses (i) and (ii), shall so state prior to the vote, indicating the substance of the departure that, in his judgment, has taken place. The statement shall be recorded in the minutes of the public body.

E. Failure of the certification required by subsection D to receive the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the public body present during a meeting shall not affect the validity or confidentiality of such meeting with respect to matters considered therein in compliance with the provisions of this chapter. The recorded vote and any statement made in connection therewith, shall upon proper authentication, constitute evidence in any proceeding brought to enforce the provisions of this chapter.

F. A public body may permit nonmembers to attend a closed meeting if such persons are deemed necessary or if their presence will reasonably aid the public body in its consideration of a topic that is a subject of the meeting.

G. A member of a public body shall be permitted to attend a closed meeting held by any committee or subcommittee of that public body, or a closed meeting of any entity, however designated, created to perform the delegated functions of or to advise that public body. Such member shall in all cases be permitted to observe the closed meeting of the committee, subcommittee or entity. In addition to the requirements of § 2.2-3707, the minutes of the committee or other entity shall include the identity of the member of the parent public body who attended the closed meeting.

H. Except as specifically authorized by law, in no event may any public body take action on matters discussed in any closed meeting, except at an open meeting for which notice was given as required by § 2.2-3707.

I. Minutes may shall be taken during closed meetings of a public body, but shall not be required separate and not part of the minutes of the open meeting in which the closed meeting took place. Additionally, the public body shall (i) make an audio recording of the entirety of every meeting that is closed to the public under this chapter or other provision of law and (ii) use a means of recording that fully captures and can clearly reproduce all statements made during a closed meeting. Such minutes and recordings shall not be subject to mandatory public disclosure.