Note: This page covers information specific to Nevada. For general information concerning access to government meetings see the Access to Government Meetings section of this guide.
In 2011, the Nevada Legislature significantly changed the open meeting law, including expanding the law to apply to quasi judicial bodies; requiring that public bodies that have violated an opening meeting law publicize the opinion in its next agenda; enacting investigative subpoena authority; expanding the scope of the definition of "public body"; creating mandatory agenda notice requirements; removing the notice requirements for an applicant for employment; and enacting a monetary penalty of up to $500.00 against members of the public body who violate the open meeting law.
The material below contains a broad overview of the Nevada Open Meetings Law. The Nevada Attorney General has also provided a Nevada Open Meeting Law Manual.
What Meetings are Covered?
What Government Bodies Are Covered?When determining whether the Open Meeting Law applies, the entity's manner of creation is taken into account. The Open Meeting Law applies to all "public bodies." Public bodies include an entity of more than two people that was created by the Nevada constitution, Nevada statute, city charter or ordinance, the Nevada Administrative Code, a resolution or formal designation by a public body, an executive order issued by the governor, or a resolution or an action by the governing body of a political subdivision of this state. Nev. R. Stat. 241.015(3). The definition also includes educational foundations defined in Nev. R. Stat. 388.750(3) and university foundations defined in Nev. R. Stat. 396.405(3). Also included are any board, commission, or committees consisting of at least two people who have been appointed by the governor or an officer acting on behalf of the governor, an entity in the executive department of the state government or an officer acting on behalf of the department. The Nevada Legislature is not included.
Exceptions to the Open Meeting Law include instances when the entity is considering the character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, or physical and mental health of a person; is preparing, revising, administering or grading examinations conducted by or on behalf of the public body; or is considering an appeal of the results of an examination conducted on behalf of a public body. The exception for considering a person's character, misconduct and competence does not apply to those who are elected members of a public body or an appointed public officer who serves "at the pleasure of a public body as a chief executive or administrative officer." Nev. R. Stat. 241.031.
If a government body or agency establishes a civic organization, it may be considered a public body if it is intended to perform any administrative, advisory, executive or legislative function of a state or local government and it expends or disburses or is supported, in whole or in part, by tax revenue. A private, non-profit organization is a public body if it acts in an administrative, advisory, or executive capacity and is supported, at least in part, by tax revenue. Quasi-judicial bodies may also be subject to the open meeting law the proceedings have a judicial character and are performed by administrative agencies. Stockmeier v. Nev. Dep't of Corr. Psychological Review Panel, 122 Nev. 385, 390, 135 P.3d 220 (2006). Judicial character includes proceedings that are referred to as a trial, takes and weighs evidence, and makes findings of fact and law from which a party may appeal to a higher authority. Id. However, the Parole Board of Commissioners is exempt from the Open Meeting Law, despite being a quasi-judicial body.
What is a Meeting?A meeting is defined as a gathering of members of a public body where a quorum (simple majority) is present, or a series of gatherings of members of a public body that meet three criteria: (1) individual gatherings where less than a quorum is present; (2) the members of the public body attending one or more of the gatherings collectively constitute a quorum; and (3) the series of gatherings was held specifically to avoid the provisions of the Open Meeting Law. Nev. R. Stat. 241.015. Social functions where members of a public body do not deliberate toward a decision or take action in any matter that the public body oversees or meetings where an attorney is meeting with the body to discuss potential or existing litigation are exempt. Nev. R. Stat. 241.015(2)(b). The Nevada Attorney General has stated that if a majority of members of a public body meet informally, to discuss any matter over which the body has control, that gathering must comply with the open meeting law.
These meetings may be held telephonically or by video conference. However, these meetings must still comply with the notice requirements, and the public must be able to listen in on these meetings. Electronic communications must not be used in order to circumvent the requirements of the open meeting law.
What Are Your Rights?
NoticeNotice of all meetings must be posted in at least four places within the public body's jurisdiction and mailed at least three working days before the meeting is set to take place. The notice must be placed at the principal office of the public body, or, if that does not exist, in the building where the meeting will take place. The notice must also be placed in three separate "prominent" places. Nev. R. Stat. 241.020. If the public entity maintains a website, the public entity must also post the agenda to it, although the body is not required to create a website if it does not already have one.
If someone has requested that he or she be mailed a notice of the meetings, the public entity must comply, and the mail must be postmarked before 9 a.m. on the third working day before the meeting. This request must be renewed every six months, and the recipient must be notified of that fact upon the first mailing. Additionally, if a person's character, misconduct, competence, or physical and mental health will be discussed, that person must also be notified of the meeting.
Nev. R. Stat. 241.020 sets forth notifications that must be provided on every agenda. These mandatory requirements include that the phrase "for possible action" must be placed next to the appropriate agenda item, and that the agenda clearly state that items may be taken out of order, may be combined for consideration by the public body, and items may be pulled or removed from the agenda at any time.
The notice must also include the time, place, and location of the meeting; a list of locations where the notice has been posted; a statement of the topics that will be discussed at the meeting and which items will be considered for action; public comment periods; indication that any portion of the meeting will be closed; the name of the person against whom administrative action will be taken, if applicable. Nev. R. Stat. 241.020.
When Meetings May Be Closed
Meetings may be closed for the following reasons:
- When considering a person's character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, or the physical or mental health;
- When preparing, revising administering, or grading examinations administered on behalf of the public body, or when considering an appeal of the results of an examination administered on behalf of the public body. Nev. R. Stat. 241.030.
- By the Public Employees Retirement Board: Meetings with investment counsel limited to the planning of future investments of the establishment of investment objectives and policies, or meetings with legal counsel limited to advice upon claims or suits by or against the system. Nev. R. Stat. 286.150(2).
- By the State Board of Pharmacy: Meetings held to deliberate on the decision in an administrative action or to prepare, grade or administer examinations. Nev. R. Stat. 639.050 and Op. Nev. Att'y Gen. No. 81-C (June 25, 1981) (opinion starts at p. 75 of linked document).
- By any public body taking up matters or conduct that are exempt under the Open Meeting Law.
- By public housing authorities, when negotiating the sale and purchase or property. However, the formal acceptance of the negotiated settlement should be made in an open meeting.
- When authorized by statute. Nev. R. Stat. 241.020.
Minutes, Recordings, and DocumentsWhen requested, a public body must provide, at no charge, at least one copy of an agenda, the proposed ordinance or regulation that will be discussed, any other supporting materials provided to the members of the public body, except those subject to confidentiality or nondisclosure agreements, pertaining to closed portions of the meetings, or those documents that are confidential by law.
What Are Your Remedies for Violations of the Open Meeting Law?The Attorney General may sue for an injunction against any public entity in violation of the Open Meeting Law. Nev. R. Stat. 241.037. Additionally, any person who has been denied a right guaranteed by the Open Meeting Law may sue in the district court where the public entity resides. The suit must be brought within 120 days after the action was objected to. Nev. R. Stat. 241.037. If the plaintiff prevails, the court may award him reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Nev. R. Stat. 241.037(2).
The Attorney General handles and investigates all potential open meeting violations, and may also bring a civil suit. Nev. R. Stat. 241.039. If the Attorney General finds that a violation has occurred, the public boy must include that information on its next agenda.
Each member of a public body who attends a meeting where a violation occurs, and who knows that the meeting is in violation of the Open Meeting Law, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Nev. R. Stat. 241.040. Anyone in violation of the Open Meeting Law also could be civilly liable in an amount not to exceed $500.The Citizen Media Law Project would like to thank the Randazza Legal Group for preparing this section. The contents of this page should not be considered to be legal advice.