The Texas Open Meetings Act regulates the open communication between members of the public and members of a governing body in Texas. This law affects government meetings that involve the discussion of public business. There are specific rules that require most public officials to remain accessible to the public.
The fundamental rules of TOMA
The Texas Open Meetings Act, or TOMA, is a law that requires all governmental meetings in Texas to be open to the public with the exception of executive sessions and workshops. TOMA only relates to meetings that discuss public business. An attending person is allowed to record the open meeting by video camera, sound recorder or any other audio or video device. All local and state governmental bodies are required to comply with this government law.
The act further states that the governmental body must post a notice of an open meeting in a public place. For example, Austin officials post their notices on public bulletin boards at the City Hall. Each notice must be posted at least 72 hours before the meeting. In addition, certain districts or corporations must publish notices on their websites. Overall, the purpose of these publications is to make the government more open and transparent to the public.
The public’s right of access
The Texas Open Meetings Act states that all types of governments must hold open meetings. The exceptions are closed-door executive sessions. Covered entities include city councils, school boards, government agencies, commissions and certain corporations. In general, organizations that provide services to the public or spend taxpayer money are subject to the law. However, there are numerous exceptions to following this act that do not apply to all public organizations.