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Index
“Sunshine Advisory” Bulletins

The Index below lists topics covered by the Attorney General’s “Sunshine Advisories.”

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has issued “Sunshine Advisory” bulletins since November 2001. The Advisories discuss basic requirements and application of Iowa’s Open Meetings Law and Public Records Law (Chapter 21 and Chapter 22 of the Iowa Code) -- Iowa’s “sunshine laws.” The Iowa Code is posted online, or it can be found in most public libraries. For more resources on Iowa’s Open Meetings and Public Records laws, go to “Open Government” at the Attorney General’s web site.

 

Open Meetings - An Overview of Key Laws

Agendas and Advance Notice

Advance Agendas for Public Meetings (3/02)
Closed-Session Agendas: Is an agenda required for a closed session? (7/04)
Agendas for Meetings – Stamp it, Mail it: Are public officials required to mail agendas in advance of meetings? Who pays for copies and postage? (2/05)
Handling New Ideas at Public Meetings: Only emergencies trump notice and agenda
requirements (10/06)

Notice for Meetings of Governmental Bodies: What if more than one law requires
notice? (2/07)

Closed Sessions

Closed Governmental Meetings – Know the Nuts and Bolts for Closed Sessions (7/02)
Recording What Goes on Behind Closed Doors (4/03)
Closed Sessions: Who’s Left Inside When the Doors Close? (10/03)
Closed-Session Agendas: Is an agenda required for a closed session? (7/04)
Are Closed Sessions Confidential? Yes, but tapes and minutes may be released (11/04)
Handling Government Personnel Matters: Can governmental bodies close a session to
discuss hiring, performance evaluations, or discipline? (11/05)

Can Public Bodies Negotiate in Private for the Purchase of Real Estate? How does Iowa's Open Meetings law operate when public bodies are purchasing real estate? (4/06)
Closed Sessions for Governmental Bodies -- Motions to close a meeting, and any final
action, must be open. (9/06)

Minutes

Minutes of Public Meetings – Minutes Should be Accurate, Complete, and Accessible
(5/02)

Public Access to Open Meetings

Lights! Cameras! Action! -- Public Access to Open Meetings (12/01)

Quorum and Voting

Counting Heads at a Public Meeting: How Many Officials are Needed for a Quorum?
(7/03)

"All in Favor, Say Aye . . ." Governmental bodies should conduct votes in a manner that
ensures the public is informed and officials are accountable. (9/03)


Rules of Conduct

Rules of Conduct for Open Meetings: Tips to Strengthen Citizen Participation (1/03)

What is an Open Meeting?

When is a Gathering an Open Meeting? (2/02)


Open Meetings - Specific Types of Meetings

Advisory Bodies and Committees

Are Advisory Bodies Subject to Iowa’s Open Meetings Law? (3/03)
When Can Committees Gather in Private? Decision-Making Authority is a Key! (7/05)

Electronic Meetings

Public Access to Electronic Meetings (9/02)
Can One Member of a Governmental Body Participate in a Meeting Electronically?
Iowa’s Open Meetings Law allows for individual electronic participation. (7/06)

Emergency Meetings

Emergency Meetings: Can Good Cause Justify Less Notice? (3/04)
Handling New Ideas at Public Meetings: Only emergencies trump notice and agenda
requirements (10/06)

Hearings

Can governmental bodies hold hearings in closed session? “Yes, sometimes – but only if
expressly authorized by statute.” (12/06)

Meeting After the Meeting

Is There a Meeting After the Meeting? Are there notice requirements for subcommittees
of public bodies? (5/04)

Non-Profit Gaming

The Open Meetings Law Applies to Nonprofits Licensed to Conduct Pari-Mutuel
Wagering or Gambling Games. (1/06)

Personnel Matters

Handling Government Personnel Matters: Can governmental bodies close a session to
discuss hiring, performance evaluations, or discipline? (11/05)

Real Estate Negotiations

Can Public Bodies Negotiate in Private for the Purchase of Real Estate? How does Iowa's Open Meetings law operate when public bodies are purchasing real estate? (4/06)

Retreats and Working Sessions

Retreats and “Working Sessions” are Open Meetings (11/02)

Public Records - An Overview of Key Laws

Charging for Public Records

Personally Examining Records -- Giving a "Free Peek" (11/01)
Charges Under the Public Records Law: Impose Only Actual Cost (4/05) [Note: The
suggested practices in this Bulletin were enacted into law 7/1/05.]

Estimating Costs for Public Records Requests: “Just how much is this going to cost?”
(11/06)

Confidential Public Records

“Confidential” Public Records – The phrase “confidential public records” sounds
contradictory (6/02)

Which Records are Confidential? (1/04)
Should a record be withheld from the public if it contains confidential information? No,
officials usually can black out confidential information and release the rest. (8/06)

Electronic Public Records

Public Access to Electronic Records (10/02)
Logging on: How Do You Apply the Public Records Law in a Computer Age? Must
government provide access to data processing software when public records are
maintained on computers? (9/04)

Paper Files? Electronic Files? Tapes? Public records are stored in many formats! (12/04)
Can a Person "Examine" and "Copy" Electronic Data? Yes -- Electronic Data is a Public
Record! (10/05)

Enjoining Production

Releasing Public Records: Can courts block the release of an open record? (10/04)

“Golden Rules”

Golden Rules for Public Records Requests (8/02, reissued 4/2008)

Lawful Custodians and Contact Persons

Public Records Contact Persons -- Helping Iowans with Access to Public Records (1/02)
Who's in charge of deciding access to public records? The "lawful custodian" holds the
key to examination and copying. (1/07)

Records Retention and Safeguarding Records

Safeguarding Public Records -- Public officials need to facilitate access AND protect
records. (4/02, reissued 5/2008)

Toss, Delete or Save? When should public bodies retain records? (2/04)
Time for Spring Cleaning? How long must officials keep public records? (4/04)

Requesting Public Records

Requests for Public Records (Must Citizens Show Up in Person?) (11/03) [Note: The
suggested practices in this Bulletin were enacted into law 7/1/05.]

Iowans Can Request Public Records by Telephone, Letter, Fax, or E-mail (5/05)

Timing of Production

When Are Public Records Available for Examination and Copying? (8/03)
Getting Access to Public Records: What is a Good Faith, Reasonable Delay? (8/05)
The Copier Broke Down! Now What? Public officials must furnish copies - even when
the copier breaks down! (9/05)


Public Records - Specific Types of Records

“9-1-1" Audio Tapes

Can the Public Obtain Copies of "9-1-1" Audio Tapes? Yes -- audio tapes are just a
different form of public record. (2/06).

Autopsy Reports

Deaths in a Community Can Raise Alarm: But Does the Public Have Access to Autopsy
Reports? (12/05)

Citizen Letters

Contacting Government Bodies: Are Citizens' Letters Confidential? (12/02)

Emergency Response Plans

Emergency Response Plans: What Information is Open to the Public? (4/07)

Library Records

Are Your Library Records Confidential? A criminal or juvenile justice agency can
obtain access to library records if investigating a person suspected of committing
a crime. (6/06)

Peace Officer Emails and Phone Records

Are E-Mails and Telephone Billing Records of Peace Officers in Law Enforcement
Agencies Confidential? (5/07)

Personal Information

Who Has Access to Personal Information Citizens Provide to State Agencies? (6/03)

Personnel Records

Access to Personnel Records of Public Employees: What's Open? What's Not? (2/03)

Resumes and Applications

Are resumes and application letters submitted to government bodies public records?
(5/03)

Settlement Agreements

No Secret Settlements: The public is entitled to know when a government body settles
litigation. In government, settlements are not secret. (6/04)

General Information on Iowa’s Sunshine Laws

Education on Sunshine Laws

Open Meetings? Public Records? Who informs public officials about Sunshine Laws?
(1/05)

Remedies and Enforcement

What is the Cost for Noncompliance? (12/03)
"But My Lawyer Said This Was Legal!" Can legal advice shield sunshine violators?
(8/04)

Two Strikes and You're Out! Courts can remove public officials from office on the
second violation of sunshine laws. (6/05)

Can Members of the Public Sue to Enforce Iowa's Sunshine Laws? Yes -- the law arms
the public with remedies. (5/06)

“Sunshine Week” Summaries of Sunshine Laws

"Sunshine Week": Let the Sun Shine! March 13-19 marks "Sunshine Week," a time to
focus on Iowa's sunshine laws -- the Open Meetings Law, and the Public Records
Law. (Iowa Code Chapters 21 and 22.) These are the laws that assure public
access to meetings and public records at all levels of government in Iowa. (3/05)

Open Meetings and Public Records: Let the Sun Shine! (3/06)
Open Meetings and Public Records: Let the Sun Shine! (3/07)


Chronological