Tennessee Open Meetings Law

8-44-102. Open meetings - "Governing body" defined - "Meeting" defined.

(a) All meetings of any governing body are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times, except as provided by the Constitution of Tennessee. 

(b) (1)  "Governing body" means: 

(A) The members of any public body which consists of two (2) or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration and also means a community action agency which administers community action programs under the provisions of 42 U.S.C. 2790 [repealed]. Any governing body so defined by this section shall remain so defined, notwithstanding the fact that such governing body may have designated itself as a negotiation committee for collective bargaining purposes, and strategy sessions of a governing body under such circumstances shall be open to the public at all times; 

(B) The board of directors of any nonprofit corporation which contracts with a state agency to receive community grant funds in consideration for rendering specified services to the public; provided, that community grant funds comprise at least thirty percent (30%) of the total annual income of such corporation. Except such meetings of the board of directors of such nonprofit corporation that are called solely to discuss matters involving confidential doctor-patient relationships, personnel matters or matters required to be kept confidential by federal or state law or by federal or state regulation shall not be covered under the provisions of this chapter, and no other matter shall be discussed at such meetings; 

(C) The board of directors of any not-for-profit corporation authorized by the laws of Tennessee to act for the benefit or on behalf of any one (1) or more of counties, cities, towns and local governments pursuant to the provisions of title 7, chapter 54 or 58. The provisions of this subdivision (b)(1)(C) shall not apply to any county with a metropolitan form of government and having a population of four hundred thousand (400,000) or more according to the 1980 federal census or any subsequent federal census; 

(D) The board of directors of any nonprofit corporation which through contract or otherwise provides a metropolitan form of government having a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000) according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census with heat, steam or incineration of refuse; 

(E) (i) The board of directors of any association or nonprofit corporation authorized by the laws of Tennessee that: 
(a) Was established for the benefit of local government officials or counties, cities, towns or other local governments or as a municipal bond financing pool; 
(b) Receives dues, service fees or any other income from local government officials or such local governments that constitute at least thirty percent (30%) of its total annual income; and  (c) Was authorized as of January 1, 1998, under state law to obtain coverage for its employees in the Tennessee consolidated retirement system. 
(ii) The provisions of this subdivision (b)(1)(E) shall not be construed to require the disclosure of a trade secret or proprietary information held or used by an association or nonprofit corporation to which this chapter applies. In the event a trade secret or proprietary information is required to be discussed in an open meeting, the association or nonprofit corporation may conduct an executive session to discuss such trade secret or proprietary information; provided, that a notice of the executive session is included in the agenda for such meeting. 
(iii) As used in this subdivision (b)(1)(E): 
(a) "Proprietary information" means rating information, plans, or proposals; actuarial information; specifications for specific services provided; and any other similar commercial or financial information used in making or deliberating toward a decision by employees, agents or the board of directors of such association or corporation; and which if known to a person or entity outside the association or corporation would give such person or entity an advantage or an opportunity to gain an advantage over the association or corporation when providing or bidding to provide the same or similar services to local governments; and 
(b) "Trade secret" means the whole or any portion or phrase of any scientific or technical information, design, process, procedure, formula or improvement which is secret and of value. The trier of fact may infer a trade secret to be secret when the owner thereof takes measures to prevent it from becoming available to persons other than those selected by the owner to have access thereto for limited purposes; 

(2) "Meeting" means the convening of a governing body of a public body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision on any matter. "Meeting" does not include any on-site inspection of any project or program. 

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed as to require a chance meeting of two (2) or more members of a public body to be considered a public meeting. No such chance meetings, informal assemblages, or electronic communication shall be used to decide or deliberate public business in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of this part. 

 

[Acts 1974, ch. 442, 2; 1979, ch. 411, 1, 2; T.C.A., 8-4402; Acts 1985, ch. 290, 1, 2; 1986, ch. 594, 1; 1988, ch. 908, 3, 5; 1997, ch. 346, 1; 1998, ch. 1102, 1, 3.]

 

8-44-103. Notice of public meetings.

(a)  Notice of Regular Meetings. Any such governmental body which holds a meeting previously scheduled by statute, ordinance, or resolution shall give adequate public notice of such meeting. 

(b)  Notice of Special Meetings. Any such governmental body which holds a meeting not previously scheduled by statute, ordinance, or resolution, or for which notice is not already provided by law, shall give adequate public notice of such meeting. 

(c)  The notice requirements of this part are in addition to, and not in substitution of, any other notice required by law. 

 

[Acts 1974, ch. 442, 3; T.C.A., 8-4403.]

 

8-44-104. Minutes recorded and open to public - Secret votes prohibited.

(a) The minutes of a meeting of any such governmental body shall be promptly and fully recorded, shall be open to public inspection, and shall include, but not be limited to, a record of persons present, all motions, proposals and resolutions offered, the results of any votes taken, and a record of individual votes in the event of roll call. 

(b)  All votes of any such governmental body shall be by public vote or public ballot or public roll call. No secret votes, or secret ballots, or secret roll calls shall be allowed. As used in this chapter, "public vote" means a vote in which the "aye" faction vocally expresses its will in unison and in which the "nay" faction, subsequently, vocally expresses its will in unison. 

 

[Acts 1974, ch. 442, 4; T.C.A., 8-4404; Acts 1980, ch. 800, 1.]

 

8-44-105. Action nullified - Exception.

Any action taken at a meeting in violation of this part shall be void and of no effect; provided, that this nullification of actions taken at such meetings shall not apply to any commitment, otherwise legal, affecting the public debt of the entity concerned. 

 

[Acts 1974, ch. 442, 5; T.C.A., 8-4405.]