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a blue ribbon with a check mark in the centerQ1. What is the Open Meeting Law?

Q2. When should we close a meeting?

Q3. Do we have to provide notice of a meeting?

Q4. Are there days when we can’t have a council meeting?

Q5. How can council and staff navigate conflict of interest rules in a small city?

Q1: What is the Open Meeting Law?

A1: Under the Minnesota Open Meeting Law, all city council meetings and executive sessions must be open to the public with only a few exceptions. The Open Meeting Law also requires meetings of a public body or of any committee, subcommittee, board, department, or commission of a public body to be open to the public.

Q2: When should we close a meeting?

A2: Most government meetings must be open to the public, including when you are making hiring decisions. Councils may close meetings for labor negotiation strategy, performance evaluations, attorney-client privilege, purchase or sale of real property, or security reports. Councils must close meetings to review certain non-public data and to hear preliminary misconduct allegations. Most of these meetings have specific requirements, including recording and retention of the recordings, that cities need to be prepared to comply with prior to closing the meeting. The same notice requirements that apply to open meetings
also apply to closed meetings.

View more about closed meetings and the Open Meeting Law in the Handbook for Minnesota Cities – Chapter 7 Meetings, Motions, Resolutions, and Ordinances

Q3: Do we have to provide notice of a meeting?

A3: Different types of meetings require different notices. Cities must keep a copy of their regular meeting schedule on file at city hall and do not have to provide additional notice. Special meetings, sometimes called workshops, require three days posted notice on the city’s bulletin board. Emergency meetings do not require posted notice. Council members must be notified about any scheduled special or emergency meetings.

Q4: Are there days when we can’t have a council meeting?

A4: State law establishes a set of public holidays when no public business (which includes public meetings) can be done, except to deal with emergencies:

  • New Year’s Day (Jan. 1).
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (the third Monday in January).
  • Washington’s and Lincoln’s Birthday (the third Monday in February).
  • Memorial Day (the last Monday in May).
  • Independence Day (July 4).
  • Labor Day (the first Monday in September).
  • Christopher Columbus Day (the second Monday in October).
  • Veterans Day (Nov. 11).
  • Thanksgiving Day (the fourth Thursday in November).
  • Christmas Day (Dec. 25).

All cities have the option, however, of deciding whether Columbus Day, also known in some cities as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and the Friday after Thanksgiving shall be holidays.

City councils and other local governing bodies cannot hold any meetings between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the day of any election within their boundaries. They cannot hold meetings after 6 p.m. on the day of a state precinct caucus, either.

Q5: How can council and staff navigate conflict of interest rules in a small city?

A5: We’ve got a MemberLearn online learning course for that! This free course for LMC members is specifically designed for small cities and will give you an overview of conflict of interest including how to navigate the four types of conflict of interest and how to identify real and perceived conflicts of interest. Access the MemberLearn course “Governance: Conflict of Interest”

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