Guidelines for Open Meeting Notices
The Texas Register is the journal of State agency rulemaking for Texas. The rulemaking actions are codified into the Texas Administrative Code, which is maintained by the Office of the Secretary of State. The General Counsel to the Board of Regents, Francie A. Frederick, reviews and certifies all submissions to the Texas Register for the U. T. System. To ensure compliance and to facilitate processing of submissions, the following procedures must be followed when preparing open meeting notice submissions.
The Open Meetings Act (Texas Government Code, Chapter 551) provides that meetings of governmental bodies must be open to the public except for expressly authorized executive sessions. The Open Meetings Act is premised on providing full notice of public business. Therefore, each item to be discussed and/or voted on during a meeting must be described in sufficient detail to enable a member of the public to understand what topics will be addressed and acted upon during meetings. Open meeting notices for System Administration and U. T. System institutions must be reviewed, approved, and certified by the General Counsel to the Board of Regents.
The Secretary of State provides extensive information on Open Meetings at http://www.sos.state.tx.us/open/index.shtml. Please note the Secretary of State requirement that most Open Meeting submissions be posted at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. To meet this requirement, submissions must be provided to the Board Office at least five (5) working days in advance of the date of the meeting to allow sufficient time to process.
The Texas Open Meetings Act requires the open meeting notices of the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) to be posted at least 7 days in advance of the meeting (because JAMP has statewide jurisdiction and is not the governing body of an institute of higher education.) For that reason, JAMP open meeting submissions must be provided to the Board Office at least ten (10) working days in advance of the date of the meeting to allow sufficient time to process.
Texas Government Code, Chapter 551.044, stipulates that a governmental body with statewide jurisdiction must post notice on the Internet of a meeting at least seven days before the day of the meeting. To meet this requirement, submissions must be provided to the Board Office at least ten (10) working days in advance of the date of the meeting to allow sufficient time to review.
Open meeting notice submissions must be compatible with the unique formatting requirements of the electronic form. To ensure compliance, please reference the Open Meeting Notice Submission Checklist when preparing open meeting notice submissions. A completed sample form with explanatory highlights is also provided to aid in troubleshooting and to point out how to avoid the typical problems associated with submissions. The Board Office requires all open meeting notice submissions to adhere to a standard format, and an open meeting notice form is provided in WORD format for convenience.
Open meeting notice submissions should be emailed to email@example.com with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Board Office will also notify submitters by email when their submission has been posted. Please contact the Board Office at (512) 499-4402 for more information.
Open Meeting Notice Submission Checklist
Please ensure that each open meeting notice submission meets the following requirements:
- If an item is to be considered for action, so indicate. Use of the phrase “discussion and appropriate action…” should provide flexibility for action, if needed.
- For each agenda item, the public should have a basic understanding of the topic upon reading the open meeting notice. For this reason, the content of a report, update, or discussion should be specified.
- If an Executive Session will be held, add language to recess to Executive Session and to reconvene in Open Session. As a reminder, closed sessions may occur only after first convening in public and must be followed by an Open Session to recess (or to take action).
- Please be alert to non-posted gatherings of members of a committee or board that would constitute a quorum, and advise members of the need to avoid conversations regarding U. T. business that could instead be presented to the appropriate committee or board. A quorum may be present at a purely social event without posting an open meeting as long as no U. T. business is discussed.
- Avoid use of acronyms or abbreviations. If acronyms and abbreviations might be useful to the public in understanding the open meeting notice, the acronym or abbreviation can be inserted in parentheses after the fully-spelled out word, title, or phrase.
- Avoid vague language.
- The online form cannot read graphics or symbols of any kind so all use of bullets, long hyphens, smart quotes, and tabs should be avoided. The web form also cannot interpret right-justified margins.
- Ensure sequential information (numbering or alphabetical lettering) is correct.
- Use spell check.
- Ensure all open meeting submissions are emailed to the Board Office at least five (5) working days in advance of the meeting.