Changes to Idaho's Open Meetings Law: An Opportunity to Try Something New

Kevin.Tomlinson's picture

Effective July 1, 2018, Idaho's Open Meetings Law (chapter 2, title 74, Idaho Code) will contain two additional requirements for public library board meeting agendas.

First, in addition to posting requirements for meeting agendas, meeting notice and agenda notice must also be posted electronically, if the library board has an online presence.

Second, an item on an agenda that requires a vote by the library board must be clearly identified as an "Action Item."

The new section of Open Meetings Law does not specify how to identify an action item on the agenda.  And that might be a good thing.  Here is an opportunity to try something new.

IMHO, one of the selling points of using a timed agenda is that includes a Desired Outcome column is that every agenda item is an action item.  As of July 1, 2018, an added benefit to this type of timed agenda is that including the Desired Outcome column could help prevent breaching the new action item requirement of the Open Meetings Law.

Action verbs are important on a timed agenda, as they identify what actions the board will be performing as part of each agenda item.  A timed agenda helps ensure that the library's trustees know what is expected of them during the meeting and helps keep them all on the same page.  Desired outcomes may include:

  • Achieve consensus
  • Approve
  • Assess
  • Agree
  • Collect (data, facts, information)
  • Consider
  • Craft (a solution, a response)
  • Discuss
  • Identify
  • Inform
  • Receive (data, facts, information)
  • Refer (to a committee, to the library's attorney, to an outside consultant)
  • Report
  • Review
  • Share
  • Vote

Requirements for amending the meeting agenda remain the same.  However, additional language has been added to allow for action on an item to be taken after the start of a meeting if an emergency is declared.  The declaration must be justified and reflected in the minutes of the meeting.

 

Here is a brief sample of a timed agenda for a hypothetical meeting.  Local needs will, of course, vary.

Time Topic or Activity Minutes  
Who Desired Outcome
6:00 Call to Order and Roll Call 2 Board Chair Begin on time
6:02

Agenda Review

5 Board Chair Agree
6:07 Minutes of Previous Meeting 5 Secretary Amend, achieve consensus; vote to approve
6:12 Director's Report 10 Director Inform; assess
6:22 Reports of Officers 10 Officers Inform; assess
6:32 Reports of Committees 10 Committee Chairs Inform; assess
6:42 Unfinished Business 31 Board 5 minutes to review all relevant information; 5 minutes to identify and agree on any assumptions needed; 5 minutes to identify and agree on the interests that should be met for any solution; 15 minutes to craft a solution that ideally considers all the interests and is consistent with our relevant information and assumptions; 1 minute to vote.
7:03 New Business 20 Board Chair Inform; discuss; vote on disposition of each new matter.
7:23

Announcements

15 All trustees Inform; share.
7:38

Comments from the Public -- This section is optional, as Idaho Code does not expressly require governing bodies of public agencies to accept public comments and testimony during meetings.

22 Public Question; identify; inform.
8:00

Adjournment

  Board Chair  Adjourn on time.

 

This is a hypothetical agenda for a hypothetical meeting.  Local needs will, of course, vary.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries does not give legal advice, so please be sure to consult with your library's attorney regarding how to label an "Action Item" on your agenda.

For More Information on Timed Agendas: