In recognition of the fact that a representative government of the American type is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the policy of this state that the public is entitled to the fullest and most complete regarding the affairs of government as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business."
The above two paragraphs are taken directly from the Compliance Guide for the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law that was written in August 2010. How does it affect animal advocacy? What does it mean for you, a concerned citizen that is speaking out for animals in your Wisconsin community?
Here are a few highlights and then please follow the link above for the full guide.
- Every meeting that is held by a governmental body must abide by the Open Meeting Law. There are clear definitions of a "governmental body" in the guide. For instance, Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission is clearly a governmental body.
- Telephone conference calls are included under the Open Meetings Law. To comply, the governmental body conducting a meeting by telephone conference call must provide the public with an effective means to monitor the conference.
- Giving advance public notice of each meeting is a basic requirement of the Open Meetings Law. This notice must be published in the designated newspaper and include the time, date, and subject matter of the meeting.
- The public should be given notice 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
- All business must be conducted in an open session, unless an exemption to the open session requirement applies (personnel, employment and compensation matters are exempt)
- The location of the meeting should be reasonably accessible to the public and in a room that is large enough to accommodate all citizens who wish to attend the meetings.
- The Attorney General and the district attorneys have authority to enforce the Open Meetings Law. A formal complaint must be filed.
- Any member of a governmental body who "knowingly" attends a meeting held in violation of the Open Meetings Law, or otherwise violates the law is subject to financial penalties ranging from $25 to $300 for each violation.
This is just a brief overview of the Compliance Guide. Please refer to it for more detailed information.