About the Texas Open Meetings Act and Recording ThemSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


About the Texas Open Meetings Act and Recording Them

24 March 2007 at 9:52:52 AM

I'm all fired up this morning about the need for ANY group that goes to an open meeting in Texas to have at least one person bring an audio digital recorder and/or a video recorder. Need a transcript? You don't have to pay expensive paper rates to get it, you can make your own from your own recording. And, you can make DVDs of the information to share with your entire group AND you can make audio or video clips of it and put it on the internet for a wider audience. An audio file, in particular, is pretty small and people who don't have faster internet connections can still easily listen. Parts of it can be included in your own podcast with commentary, etc.

Why a digital audio recorder versus a tape recorder? Because, with digital, you can plug the recorder directly into your computer, edit it, save it and upload it very easily. I'm not pitching Sony in particular but I happen to have a Sony stick that does very well, and records up to 32 hours, more than enough for any day meeting. Video recorders make much larger files but on the other hand, one can make a DVD of the proceedings to share and selected clips can be put on the internet.

If you think some agency might try to give you a problem, print out the Texas Open Meetings Act, so that they may be informed (there are some exceptions, such as when a county goes into executive, closed session, etc). And, I shouldn't have to say this, but common sense and courtesy prevail that you don't set up your camera in front of people who want to watch, etc.

Anyway, again. You're going to be there anyway, right? And there are a lot of us who would LIKE to be at various meetings, but can't make it but know that the corporate media isn't going to cover it. YOU cover it.

The Texas Open Meetings Act is here, in PDF format. from page 5

§ 551.023. Recording of Meeting by Person in Attendance

(a) A person in attendance may record all or any part of an open meeting of a governmental body by means of a tape recorder, video camera, or other means of aural or visual reproduction.

(b) A governmental body may adopt reasonable rules to maintain order at a meeting, including rules relating to:

(1) the location of recording equipment; and

(2) the manner in which the recording is conducted.

(c) A rule adopted under Subsection (b) may not prevent or unreasonably impair a person from exercising a right granted under Subsection (a).

WHO or WHAT are governmental meetings that can be recorded?

(3) "Governmental body" means:

(A) a board, commission, department, committee, or agency within the executive or legislative branch of state government that is directed by one or more elected or appointed members;

(B) a county commissioners court in the state;

(C) a municipal governing body in the state;

(D) a deliberative body that has rulemaking or quasi-judicial power and that is classified as a department, agency, or political subdivision of a county or municipality;

(E) a school district board of trustees;

(F) a county board of school trustees;

(G) a county board of education;

(H) the governing board of a special district created by law;

(I) a local workforce development board created under Section 2308.253;

(J) a nonprofit corporation that is eligible to receive funds under the federal community services block grant program and that is authorized by this state to serve a geographic area of the state; and

(K) a nonprofit corporation organized under Chapter 67, Water Code, that provides a water supply or wastewater service, or both, and is exempt from ad valorem taxation under Section 11.30, Tax Code.

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