Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 Legislative Enactments of Interest to Libraries

Kansas Open Meetings Act Amendments

The 2008 Kansas Legislature amended the Kansas Open Meetings Act, K.S.A. 75-4317, in two ways. First, the definition of a meeting, for the purposes of the Open Meetings Act, was amended to read as follows:

“As used in the open meetings act, “meeting” means any gathering or assembly in person or through the use of a telephone or any other medium for interactive communication by a majority of the membership of a body or agency subject to this act for the purpose of discussing the business or affairs of the body or agency.” (Chapter 178, 2008 Session Laws of Kansas)

Prior to the 2008 amendment, a meeting had been defined as a gathering which consisted of a majority of a quorum of the membership of the body.

The 2008 Legislature also amended the Open Meetings Act by inserting the following new language allowing for serial meetings:

"Except as provided by section 22 of article 2 of the Constitution of the State of Kansas, meetings in a series shall be open if they collectively involve a majority of membership of the body or agency, share a common topic of discussion concerning the business or affairs of the body or agency, and are intended by any or all of the participants to reach agreement on a matter that would require binding action to be taken by the body or agency."

It would appear then that a serial meeting may take the form of an in-person communication or through the use of a telephone, or any other medium of interactive communication. And any such meeting that also includes the other characteristics, listed above, would need to be open and follow other Open Meetings Act requirements.

The Attorney General’s website has been changed to reflect the 2008 amendments and also addresses frequently asked questions about complying with the Kansas Open Meetings Act at

Structure of Public Boards

Also of interest is new language enacted as "New Section 4" of House Bill 2217, which provides that after July 1, 2008, any appointment to any board, commission, advisory group or other body made by the mayor of any city which is subject to approval of the governing body of the city must be acted upon by the governing body within 45 days of the appointment by the mayor or the appointment shall be deemed approved. The language also provides that the governing body of the city shall approve such appointment unless the governing body makes a specific finding by the passage of a resolution that the person is either unqualified to hold the office or is not fit to hold the office or position.

With the passage of H.B. 2217, the 2008 legislature also amended K.S.A. 12-1222, making it possible for a governing body of any city to appoint a library board of 10 members, as an alternative to the 7 member boards already provided for.