Under current provisions of the Open Meetings Law (OML), if elected officials use electronic mail to discuss pending legislation or other public business among themselves, the electronic mail constitutes a meeting that is subject to the OML's requirements. The act substitutes the word "exchange" for the word "use" in describing the type of electronic mail communication that triggers the application of the OML.
The act also clarifies existing statutory provisions to specify that electronic mail communication between elected officials that does not relate to the merits or substance of pending legislation or other public business is not a meeting for OML purposes. Under the act, the type of electronic communication that also does not constitute a meeting for OML purposes includes electronic communication regarding scheduling and availability as well as electronic communication that is sent by an elected official for the purpose of forwarding information, responding to an inquiry from an individual who is not a member of the state or local public body, or posing a question for later discussion by the public body. The act defines the term "merits or substance" to mean any discussion, debate, or exchange of ideas, either generally or specifically, related to the essence of any public policy proposition, specific proposal, or any other matter being considered by the governing entity.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)