Q&A: Minutes of committee meetings


From NUVO (Indianapolis):

Q: I’m working on a story using the minutes for Indianapolis City-County Council committee meetings. None of the committees have their minutes fully updated, and some have not posted any this year at all. In addition, many of the ones that are posted lead to website errors.

Do committees have the option to not record minutes, or are they legally obligated to record them? And what is considered the norm for posting in a “timely manner,” if there is a norm?

A: Governing bodies are not required to keep minutes, although most do. There also isn’t any requirement for them to post the minutes on their websites. They do have to make them available for inspection and copying.

During a meeting, officials do have to keep a memoranda. See IC 4-14-1.5-4(b).

Since this document is created during the meeting, I would argue it should be available for inspection and copying during the next business day, unless it happens to be used at that time by a clerk.

The memorandum is the least edited version of what happened at the meeting.

When the minutes are being drafted, there’s some editing. When the governing body approves them, there could be additional editing.

The Access to Public Records Act says record requests should be made during regular business hours of the public agency.

So if the meeting was Tuesday night, I would argue the memoranda should be available for inspection and copying Wednesday.

The only hold up might be if a clerk was using the memoranda on Wednesday to draft the minutes. The clerk doesn’t have to drop everything to accommodate a record request.

There’s no other reason not to make them available since there isn’t an issue as to the memoranda or part of it being a confidential record that might require legal review before releasing.

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