2021 Georgia Code
Title 50 - State Government
Chapter 14 - Open and Public Meetings
§ 50-14-3. Excluded Proceedings
- This chapter shall not apply to the following:
- Staff meetings held for investigative purposes under duties or responsibilities imposed by law;
- The deliberations and voting of the State Board of Pardons and Paroles; and in addition such board may close a meeting held for the purpose of receiving information or evidence for or against clemency or in revocation proceedings if it determines that the receipt of such information or evidence in open meeting would present a substantial risk of harm or injury to a witness;
- Meetings of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation or any other law enforcement or prosecutorial agency in the state, including grand jury meetings;
- Adoptions and proceedings related thereto;
- Gatherings involving an agency and one or more neutral third parties in mediation of a dispute between the agency and any other party. In such a gathering, the neutral party may caucus jointly or independently with the parties to the mediation to facilitate a resolution to the conflict, and any such caucus shall not be subject to the requirements of this chapter. Any decision or resolution agreed to by an agency at any such caucus shall not become effective until ratified in a public meeting and the terms of any such decision or resolution are disclosed to the public. Any final settlement agreement, memorandum of agreement, memorandum of understanding, or other similar document, however denominated, in which an agency has formally resolved a claim or dispute shall be subject to the provisions of Article 4 of Chapter 18 of this title;
- Of any medical staff committee of a public hospital;
- Of the governing authority of a public hospital or any committee thereof when performing a peer review or medical review function as set forth in Code Section 31-7-15, Articles 6 and 6A of Chapter 7 of Title 31, or under any other applicable federal or state statute or regulation; and
- Of the governing authority of a public hospital or any committee thereof in which the granting, restriction, or revocation of staff privileges or the granting of abortions under state or federal law is discussed, considered, or voted upon;
- Incidental conversation unrelated to the business of the agency; or
- E-mail communications among members of an agency; provided, however, that such communications shall be subject to disclosure pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of this title.
- Subject to compliance with the other provisions of this chapter, executive sessions shall be permitted for:
- Meetings when any agency is discussing or voting to:
- Authorize the settlement of any matter which may be properly discussed in executive session in accordance with paragraph (1) of Code Section 50-14-2;
- Authorize negotiations to purchase, dispose of, or lease property;
- Authorize the ordering of an appraisal related to the acquisition or disposal of real estate;
- Enter into a contract to purchase, dispose of, or lease property subject to approval in a subsequent public vote; or
- Enter into an option to purchase, dispose of, or lease real estate subject to approval in subsequent public vote.
No vote in executive session to acquire, dispose of, or lease real estate, or to settle litigation, claims, or administrative proceedings, shall be binding on an agency until a subsequent vote is taken in an open meeting where the identity of the property and the terms of the acquisition, disposal, or lease are disclosed before the vote or where the parties and principal settlement terms are disclosed before the vote;
- Meetings when discussing or deliberating upon the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal, or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee or interviewing applicants for the position of the executive head of an agency. This exception shall not apply to the receipt of evidence or when hearing argument on personnel matters, including whether to impose disciplinary action or dismiss a public officer or employee or when considering or discussing matters of policy regarding the employment or hiring practices of the agency. The vote on any matter covered by this paragraph shall be taken in public and minutes of the meeting as provided in this chapter shall be made available. Meetings by an agency to discuss or take action on the filling of a vacancy in the membership of the agency itself shall at all times be open to the public as provided in this chapter;
- Meetings of the board of trustees or the investment committee of any public retirement system created by or subject to Title 47 when such board or committee is discussing matters pertaining to investment securities trading or investment portfolio positions and composition;
- Portions of meetings during which that portion of a record made exempt from public inspection or disclosure pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of this title is to be considered by an agency and there are no reasonable means by which the agency can consider the record without disclosing the exempt portions if the meeting were not closed; and
- Meetings when discussing or deliberating upon cybersecurity plans, procedures, and contracts regarding the provision of cybersecurity services. No vote in executive session to enter into a cybersecurity contract shall be binding on an agency until a subsequent vote is taken in an open meeting where the identity of the contractor and the terms of the agreement that are not subject to paragraph (25) of subsection (a) of Code Section 50-18-72 are disclosed before the vote.
- Meetings when any agency is discussing or voting to:
(Code 1981, §50-14-3, enacted by Ga. L. 1988, p. 235, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1061, § 3; Ga. L. 1997, p. 44, § 2; Ga. L. 2003, p. 880, § 1; Ga. L. 2006, p. 560, § 4/SB 462; Ga. L. 2012, p. 218, § 1/HB 397; Ga. L. 2021, p. 110, § 1/HB 134.)
The 2021 amendment, effective April 29, 2021, deleted "and" at the end of paragraph (b)(3), substituted "; and" for a period at the end of paragraph (b)(4), and added paragraph (b)(5).Code Commission notes.
- Pursuant to Code Section 28-9-5, in 1992, "paragraph" was substituted for "subsection" in paragraph (6).Law reviews.
- For article on the 2012 amendment of this Code section, see 29 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 139 (2012). For annual survey on local government law, see 71 Mercer L. Rev. 189 (2019). For note on 1992 amendment of this Code section, see 9 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 344 (1992).JUDICIAL DECISIONS
There is no exception for pending criminal investigations. Kilgore v. R.W. Page Corp., 261 Ga. 410, 405 S.E.2d 655 (1991).Dismissal of a public officer.
- O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14 is not applicable when the dismissal of a public officer is under consideration. Brennan v. Chatham County Comm'rs, 209 Ga. App. 177, 433 S.E.2d 597 (1993).
Coroner does not constitute a "law enforcement agency" within the meaning of O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(3). Kilgore v. R.W. Page Corp., 261 Ga. 410, 405 S.E.2d 655 (1991).Meeting to discuss dismissal of employee.
- When the county commission discussed an employee's job performance at meetings and did not take any vote or other official action on the employee's employment, the commission did not violate the Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14. Camden County v. Haddock, 271 Ga. 664, 523 S.E.2d 291 (1999).
Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14, applied to a meeting of county commissioners called to determine whether a deputy warden of a corrections institute would continue to be employed because the board acted pursuant to a letter from the DOC, which was clearly considered because it was the stated basis for the warden's termination. Moon v. Terrell County, 249 Ga. App. 567, 548 S.E.2d 680 (2001).Voting on employment decision.
- Georgia Supreme Court held that the language of the Open Meetings Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 et seq., specifically O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(b)(2), did not mandate a vote on a relevant employment decision, the statute simply referenced such vote and required that any such vote be taken in public. City of College Park v. Martin, 304 Ga. 488, 818 S.E.2d 620 (2018).County equalization board deliberations not exempt from Act.
- County equalization board held an open meeting to take evidence on the disputed tax assessment value of property but then violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 et seq., when the board closed the meeting and deliberated and voted in private. Bryan County Bd. of Equalization v. Bryan County Bd. of Tax Assessors, 253 Ga. App. 831, 560 S.E.2d 719 (2002), cert. denied, 537 U.S. 1190, 123 S. Ct. 1260, 154 L. Ed. 2d 1023 (2003).Acquisition of real estate.
- Trial court did not err in dismissing the citizens' action alleging that a county board of commissioners violated the Georgia Open Meetings Act, O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1 et seq., by voting in closed meetings to pursue the acquisition of land because the complaint failed to aver any violation of the Act; because the exception to the open meetings requirement, O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3(4), does not specifically provide that a vote on the excepted issue must be taken in public, a vote can be taken in closed session. Johnson v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 302 Ga. App. 266, 690 S.E.2d 912 (2010).
Cited in Athens Observer, Inc. v. Anderson, 245 Ga. 63, 263 S.E.2d 128 (1980); Saleem v. Snow, 217 Ga. App. 883, 460 S.E.2d 104 (1995); Wiggins v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 258 Ga. App. 666, 574 S.E.2d 874 (2002); City of Baldwin v. Woodard & Curran, Inc., 293 Ga. 19, 743 S.E.2d 381 (2013); Rosser v. Clyatt, 348 Ga. App. 40, 821 S.E.2d 140 (2018).
OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Ga. L. 1972, p. 575, which was subsequently repealed but was succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section.Applicability.
- Provisions on open and public meetings was not meant to apply and does not apply to every governmental entity. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 79-25.
Provisions on open and public meetings did not apply to entities within the judicial branch of state government as nothing in the law contradicted this conclusion; the law contained no reference to the judicial branch, any of its parts, or any judicial function. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 79-25 (decided under former Ga. L. 1972, p. 575).State Ethics Commission sessions not excluded.
- There is no statutory provision in O.C.G.A. § 50-14-3 or the Georgia Administrative Procedure Act, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 13, which would authorize the State Ethics Commission to deliberate in closed session after hearing evidence in a contested case. 1989 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 89-6.O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14 does not apply to Board of Court Reporting or any other agency.
- Provisions on open and public meetings did not apply to Board of Court Reporting or any other agency of the judicial branch of government. 1979 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 79-25 (decided under former Ga. L. 1972, p. 575).
Advisory Committee on Area Planning and Development is subject to Georgia's Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14. 1985 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U85-42 (decided under former Ga. L. 1972, p. 575).Subsequent Injury Trust Fund Board meetings.
- Portion of Subsequent Injury Trust Fund Board meetings in which the medical and rehabilitation records of an individual are discussed are not subject to the Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14. 1991 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 91-8.
Portions of the Subsequent Injury Trust Fund Board meetings in which personnel matters are discussed are not subject to the Open Meetings Law, O.C.G.A. T. 50, C. 14, unless the board is conducting an evidentiary hearing or entertaining argument in a disciplinary proceeding. 1991 Op. Att'y Gen. 91-8.Notice of closure of public meeting.
- Prior public notice that a portion of a properly advertised open meeting will be closed is not required. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.Executive sessions.
- Portions of the official meeting may be closed or conducted in "executive" sessions under specific circumstances if the proper procedures are followed. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.
There is no limitation on who may be invited into executive sessions. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.
County board can discuss or deliberate on the appointment of a county attorney, county physician, or county administrator in closed session, but must vote on the appointment in public. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.
Provisions as to executive sessions apply to cities and to public hospital authorities when those entities are conducting "strategic planning sessions." 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.
There are no requirements regarding the taking of minutes of proceedings in an executive session. 1998 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U98-3.