Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants...

Basic Rights Provided by OMA

OMA specifies numerous operational responsibilities of a public body and provides various rights for individuals who wish to observe or participate in the public meeting. In short, OMA requires public bodies to conduct all votes and nearly all business at open public meetings after giving appropriate public notice.

Board's General Duties under OMA

Most importantly, OMA requires that all decisions and votes of a public body must be made at a meeting open to the public.

In addition, deliberations of a public body must generally take place at a meeting open to the public unless the Board is permitted and votes to go into closed session. (But note there are a few specific state boards that are completely exempt from this requirement.) All votes regarding deliberations made in closed session must then be made in the subsequent open portion of a public meeting.

Meeting Attendence

A person shall not be required as a condition of attendance at a meeting of a public body to register or otherwise provide his or her name or other information or otherwise to fulfill a condition precedent to be to attend. MCL 15.263(4).

A person may only be excluded from a public meeting for breaching of the peace actually committed at the meeting. MCL 15.263(6).

The Right to Record Meetings

The right of the public to attend a meeting explicitly includes the right to tape-record, videotape, broadcast live on radio, and telecast live on television the proceedings of a public body at a public meeting. The exercise of this right is not dependent upon the prior approval of the public body.

Public Has Right to Address Board

A person is explicitedly permitted to address a meeting of a public body. The public body may establish reasonable rules regulating an individual's right to address the board. Public boards routinely and commonly provide a "public comment" section at each of its meeting. Not allowing any members of the public attending a public meeting to speak is a violation of OMA. MCL 15.263(5).

Other requirements may include reasonable control over the length of time that a person may address a public meeting, designation of the time for public participation during a certain part of the agenda, and that the speaker identify himself or herself prior to speaking. But these requirements must be estalished in writing and on the record BEFORE the meeting takes commences. Making up new rules within a particular meeting to hamper public comment or participation, especially hot political topics, is improper.

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Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants...

Louis D. Brandeis
in Other People's Money

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