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Terry Goddard Issues Opinion Allowing Online Public Meetings

(Phoenix, Ariz. - Sept. 30, 2008) Attorney General Terry Goddard issued a legal Opinion yesterday stating that under Arizona’s Open Meeting Law a public body can conduct deliberations and discussions in an online meeting.

The Opinion asserts that Arizona’s Open Meeting Law does not prohibit public bodies from conducting discussions through the Internet, as long as the requirements for providing sufficient notice and public access to all meeting communications are met.

"Continuing developments in telecommunications technology offer the promise of widening the public’s access to meetings held by public bodies," the Opinion states. "This promise, however, is counterbalanced by the potential for abuse or technological obstacles for some citizens to access the meeting. Thus, any public body choosing to use technological means to conduct its meetings must scrupulously comply with the notice and minute-keeping requirements imposed by the Open Meeting Law and must further make all reasonable efforts to facilitate public access to the meeting."

The Opinion further states that “notice should also include the proposed date and time of the meeting at which the Board intends to take final action adopting the proposed document.”

The Opinion was issued in response to a request from the Camp Verde Unified School District Governing Board regarding whether the board could hold an online meeting during which board members edited and discussed proposed changes to a document.

A copy of the Opinion is available at the Attorney General’s Web site, www.azag.gov . For more information, contact Anne Hilby at (602) 542-8019.