June 20, 2011

Two Open Meeting bills signed into law

In addition to signing three campaign finance reform laws last week, Governor Brian Sandoval, R, also signed two bills affecting Nevada's Open Meeting Laws.

Assembly Bill 257, sponsored by Republican Assemblymen John Ellison and Pete Goicoechea, requires public meetings to hold two public comment periods: one before a meeting on which action may be taken and a period after each agenda item is discussed by the public.

Assembly Bill 59, sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Government Affairs, strengthens penalties for violators of the Open Meeting Laws. Specific penalties include Sections 6 and 7, which state public body members who attend a meeting with knowledge that the meeting violates Open Meeting Laws could be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined up to $500.

While stricter penalties may promote compliance, NPRI's Karen Gray notes that Nevada has a sloppy history of enforcing Open Meeting Laws and fines are no substitute for stricter enforcement.