Q&A: Definition of committee


From the Daily Journal (Franklin):

Q: I am looking for the Open Door Law definition of a committee to determine if a specific group – two board of aviation commissioners and a mayor, granted the authority to hire and fire employees by the local board of aviation commissioners – fits and therefore must give notice of its meetings. The board says the trio is not a committee.

A: In the Open Door Law, you’ll find the definition of a “governing body” at IC 5-14-1.5-2(b).

The definition includes a committee appointed by the governing body (in this case, the board of aviation commissioners) or its presiding officer to take official action on public business. (Hiring and firing public employees would be public business.)

If a majority of this committee gathers to take official action upon public business, then you have a meeting as defined at IC 5-14-1.5-2(c). Public notice of such a meeting must be given. (See IC 5-14-1.5-5.)

Not calling a committee a committee doesn’t change its status under the law.

As Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.