APPENDICES

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APPENDICES
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Mississippi Public Records Act

§ 25-61-1 (Supp. 1996). Short title; legislative policy regarding right of access to records.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983." It is the policy of the Legislature that public records must be available for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this act. Furthermore, providing access to public records is a duty of each public body and automation of public records must not erode the right of access to those records. As each agency increases its use of and dependence on electronic record keeping, each agency must ensure reasonable access to records electronically maintained, subject to the rules of records retention.
 

§ 25-61-2 (Supp. 1996). State policy regarding access to public records.

It is the policy of this state that public records shall be available for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this chapter; furthermore, providing access to public records is a duty of each public body and automation of public records must not erode the right of access to those records. As each public body increases its use of, and dependence on, electronic record keeping, each public body must ensure reasonable access to records electronically maintained, subject to records retention.
 

§ 25-61-3 (Supp. 1996). Definitions.

The following words shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

(a) "Public body" shall mean any department, bureau, division, council, commission, committee, subcommittee, board, agency and any other entity of the state or a political subdivision thereof, and any municipal corporation and any other entity created by the Constitution or by law, executive order, ordinance or resolution. Within the meaning of this chapter, the term "entity" shall not be construed to include individuals employed by a public body or any appointed or elected public official.

(b) "Public records" shall mean all books, records, papers, accounts, letters, maps, photographs, films, cards, tapes, recordings or reproductions thereof, and any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed or retained for use in the conduct, transaction or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty or function of any public body, or required to be maintained by any public body.
 

(c) "Data processing software" means the programs and routines used to employ and control the capabilities of data processing hardware, including, but not limited to, operating systems, compilers, assemblers, utilities, library routines, maintenance routines, applications and computer networking programs.

(d) "Proprietary software" means data processing software that is obtained under a licensing agreement and is protected by copyright or trade secret laws.
 

§ 25-61-5. Public access to records; form and retention of denials.

(1) Except as otherwise provided by sections 25-61-9 and 25-61-11, all public records are hereby declared to be public property, and any person shall have the right to inspect, copy or mechanically reproduce or obtain a reproduction of any public record of a public body in accordance with reasonable written procedures adopted by the public body concerning the cost, time, place and method of access, and public notice of the procedures shall be given by the public body, or, in the event that a public body has not adopted such written procedures, the right to inspect, copy or mechanically reproduce or obtain a reproduction of a public record of the public body shall be provided within one (1) working day after a written request for a public record is made.No public body shall adopt procedures which will authorize the public body to produce or deny production of a public record later than seven (7) working days from the date of request for the production of such record.

(2) Denial by a public body of a request for access to or copies of public records under this chapter shall be in writing and shall contain a statement of the specific reasons for the denial. Each public body shall maintain a file of all denials of requests for public records. Public bodies shall be required to preserve such denials on file for not less than three (3) years from the date such denials are made. This file shall be made available for inspection and/or copying during regular office hours to any person upon written request.
 

§ 25-61-7. Fees incident to providing records.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, each public body may establish and collect fees reasonably calculated to reimburse it for, and in no case to exceed, the actual cost of searching, reviewing and/or duplicating and, if applicable, mailing copies of public records. Such fees shall be collected by the public body in advance of complying with the request.

(2) A public body may establish a standard fee scale to reimburse it for the costs of creating, acquiring and maintaining a geographic information system or multipurpose cadastre as authorized and defined under Section 25-61-1 et seq., or any other electronically accessible data. Such fees must be reasonably related to the cost of creating, acquiring and maintaining the geographic information system, multipurpose cadastre or other electronically accessible data, for the data or information contained therein or taken therefrom and for any records, papers, accounts, maps, photographs, films, cards, tapes, recordings or other materials, data or information relating thereto, whether in printed, digital or other format. In determining the fees or charges under this subsection, the public body may consider the type of information requested, the purpose or purposes for which the information has been requested and the commercial value of the information.
 

§ 25-61-9 (Supp. 1996). Records furnished by third parties

(1) Records furnished to public bodies by third parties which contain trade secrets or confidential commercial or financial information shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction under this chapter until notice to said third parties has been given, but such records shall be released within a reasonable period of time unless the said third parties shall have obtained a court order protecting such records as confidential.

(2) If any public record which is held to be exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter contains material which is not exempt pursuant to this chapter, the public body shall separate the exempt material and make the nonexempt material available for examination and/or copying as provided for in this chapter.

(3) Trade secrets and confidential commercial and financial information of a proprietary nature developed by a college or university under contract with a firm, business, partnership, association, corporation, individual or other like entity shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction under this chapter.

(4) Misappropriation of a trade secret shall be governed by the provisions of the Mississippi Uniform Trade Secrets Act, Sections 75-26-1 through 75- 26-19.

(5) A waste minimization plan and any updates developed by generators and facility operators under the Mississippi Comprehensive Multimedia Waste Minimization Act of 1990 shall be retained at the facility and shall not be subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction under this chapter.

(6) Data processing software obtained by an agency under a licensing agreement that prohibits its disclosure and which software is a trade secret, as defined in Section 75-26-3, and data processing software produced by a public body which is sensitive must not be subject to inspection, copying or reproduction under this chapter.

As used in this subsection, "sensitive" means only those portions of data processing software, including the specifications and documentation, used to:

(a) Collect, process, store, and retrieve information which is exempt under this chapter.

(b) Control and direct access authorizations and security measures for automated systems.

(c) Collect, process, store, and retrieve information, disclosure of which would require a significant intrusion into the business of the public body.
 

§ 25-61-10 (Supp. 1996). Access to records stored, manipulated or retrieved by sensitive software; acquisition, modification, etc., of systems, etc., used for creation or maintenance of public records data bases.

(1) Any public body that uses sensitive software, as defined in Section 25-61-9, or proprietary software must not thereby diminish the right of the public to inspect and copy a public record. A public body that uses sensitive software, as defined in Section 25-61-9, or proprietary software to store, manipulate, or retrieve a public record will not be deemed to have diminished the right of the public if it either: (a) If [if] legally obtainable, makes a copy of the software available to the public for application to the public records stored, manipulated, or retrieved by the software; or (b) ensures that the software has the capacity to create an electronic copy of each public record stored, manipulated, or retrieved by the software in some common format such as, but not limited to, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

(2) A public body shall provide a copy of the record in the format requested if the public body maintains the record in that format, and the public body may charge a fee which must be in accordance with Section 25-61-7.

(3) Before a public body acquires or makes a major modification to any information technology system, equipment, or software used to store, retrieve, or manipulate a public record, the public body shall adequately plan for the provision of public access and redaction of exempt or confidential information by the proposed system, equipment or software.

(4) A public body may not enter into a contract for the creation or maintenance of a public records data base if that contract impairs the ability of the public to inspect or copy the public records of that agency, including public records that are on-line or stored in an information technology system used by the public body.
 

§ 25-61-11. Records exempted or privileged by law.

The provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to conflict with, amend, repeal or supersede any constitutional or statutory law or decision of a court of this state or the United States which at the time of this chapter is effective or thereafter specifically declares a public record to be confidential or privileged, or provides that a public record shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter.
 

§ 25-61-13. Proceedings to compel public access to records; procedure; remedies.

(1) Any person denied the right granted by Section 25-61-5 to inspect and/or copy public records may institute a suit in the chancery court of the county in which the public body is located, and the court shall determine whether such public record is exempt from the provisions of this chapter, and in making such determination the court shall take into consideration any constitutional or statutory law or decision of any court of this state or the United States or any rule of common law. Process shall be served on the proper officials according to law.

(2) In any suit filed under subsection (1) of this section, the court has the authority to prohibit the public body from withholding the public records, to order the production of any public records improperly withheld from the person seeking disclosure, and to grant such other equitable relief as may be proper. The court, on its own motion, may privately view the public records in controversy before reaching a decision.
 

(3) Proceedings arising under this section shall take precedence on the docket over all other matters and shall be assigned for hearing and trial at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way. Such suits may be heard in termtime or in vacation.
 

(4) Any suit filed under this section shall be subject to all the rights and rules of appeal for other suits arising in chancery court.
 

§ 25-61-15. Penalty for wrongful denial of access to record.

Any person who shall willfully and knowingly deny to any person access to any public record which is not exempt from the provisions of this chapter shall be liable civilly in a sum not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100.00), plus all reasonable expenses incurred by such person bringing the lawsuit.
 

§ 25-61-17. Chapter not to affect legislature.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as denying the legislature the right to determine the rules of its own proceedings and to regulate public access to its records.

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Mississippi Open Meetings Act
 

§ 25-33-19. Common seal of such officers. The board of supervisors of every county shall provide a notarial seal, with the inscription "notary public" around the margin and the image of an eagle in the center, which seal shall be kept in the office of the clerk of the circuit court; and all ex-officio notaries public may at all times have access to and use such seal for the authentication of any notarial act necessary to be so authenticated.
 

§ 25-41-1. Legislative declaration. It being essential to the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government and to the maintenance of a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner, and that citizens be advised of and be aware of the performance of public officials and the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy, it is hereby declared to be the policy of the State of Mississippi that the formation and determination of public policy is public business and shall be conducted at open meetings except as otherwise provided herein.
 

§ 25-41-3. Definitions. For purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the meaning ascribed herein, to wit:
 

(a) "Public body" shall mean: (i) any executive or administrative board, commission, authority, council, department, agency, bureau, or any other policymaking entity, or committee thereof, of the State of Mississippi, or any political subdivision or municipal corporation of the state, whether such entity be created by statute or executive order, which is supported wholly or in party by public funds or expends public funds, and (ii) any standing, interim or special committee of the Mississippi Legislature. There shall be exempted from the provisions of this chapter the judiciary, including all jury deliberations, public and private hospital staffs, public and private hospital boards and committees thereof, law enforcement officials, the military, the State Probation and Parole Board, the Workers' Compensation Commission, legislative subcommittees and legislative conference committees, and license revocation, suspension and disciplinary proceedings held by the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners.
 

(b) "Meeting" shall mean an assemblage of members of a public body at which official acts may be taken upon a matter over which the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
 

§ 25-41-5. Official meetings of public bodies to be public and open. All official meetings of any public body, unless otherwise provided in this chapter or in the Constitutions of the United States of America or the State of Mississippi, are declared to be public meetings and shall be open to the public at all times unless declared an executive session as provided in Section 25-41-7.
 

§ 25-41-7. Executive sessions.
 

(1) Any public body may enter into executive session for the transaction of public business; provided, however, all meetings of any such public body shall commence as an open meeting, and an affirmative vote of three-fifths (3/5) of all members present shall be required to declare an executive session.
 

(2) The procedure to be followed by any public body in declaring an executive session shall be as follows: Any member shall have the right to request by motion a closed determination upon the issue of whether or not to declare an executive session. Such motion, by majority vote, shall require the meeting to be closed for a preliminary determination of the necessity for executive session. No other business shall be transacted until the discussion of the nature of the matter requiring executive session has been completed and a vote, as required in subsection (1) hereof, has been taken on the issue.
 

(3) An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from open meetings by subsection (4) of this section. The reason for holding such an executive session shall be stated in an open meeting, and the reason so stated shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require that any meeting be closed to the public, nor shall any executive session be used to circumvent or to defeat the purposes of this chapter.
 

(4) A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to this section for one or more of the following reasons:
 

(a) Transaction of business and discussion of personnel matters relating to the job performance, character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person holding a specific position.
 

(b) Strategy sessions or negotiations with respect to prospective litigation, litigation or issuance of an appealable order when an open meeting would have a detrimental effect on the litigating position of the public body.
 

(c) Transaction of business and discussion regarding the report, development or course of action regarding security personnel, plans or devices.
 

(d) Investigative proceedings by any public body regarding allegations of misconduct or violation of law.
 

(e) Any body of the Legislature which is meeting on matters within the jurisdiction of such body.
 

(f) Cases of extraordinary emergency which would pose immediate or irrevocable harm or damage to persons and/or property within the jurisdiction of such public body.
 

(g) Transaction of business and discussion regarding the prospective purchase, sale or leasing of lands.
 

(h) Discussions between a school board and individual students who attend a school within the jurisdiction of such school board or the parents or teachers of such students regarding problems of such students or their parents or teachers.
 

(i) Transaction of business and discussion concerning the preparation of tests for admission to practice in recognized professions.
 

(j) Transaction of business and discussions or negotiations regarding the location, relocation or expansion of a business or an industry.
 

(k) Transaction of business and discussions regarding employment or job performance of a person in a specific position or termination of an employee holding a specific position. The exemption provided by this paragraph includes the right to enter into executive session concerning a line item in a budget which might affect the termination of an employee or employees. All other budget items shall be considered in open meetings and final budgetary adoption shall not be taken in executive session.
 

(5) The total vote on the question of entering into an executive session shall be recorded and spread upon the minutes of such public body.
 

(6) Any such vote whereby executive session is declared shall be applicable only to that particular meeting on that particular day.
 

§ 25-41-9. Conduct of persons attending meetings. Any public body may make and enforce reasonable rules and regulations for the conduct of persons attending its meetings.
 

§ 25-41-11. Minutes. Minutes shall be kept of all meetings of a public body, whether in open or executive session, showing the members present and absent; the date, time and place of the meeting; an accurate recording of any final actions taken at such meeting; and a record, by individual member, of any votes taken; and any other information that the public body requests be included or reflected in the minutes. The minutes shall be recorded within a reasonable time not to exceed thirty (30) days after recess or adjournment and shall be open to public inspection during regular business hours.
 

Minutes of legislative committee meetings shall consist of a written record of attendance and final actions taken at such meetings.
 

§ 25-41-13. Notice of meetings.
 

(1) Any public body which holds its meetings at such times and places and by such procedures as are specifically prescribed by statute shall continue to do so and no additional notice of such meetings shall be required except that a notice of the place, date, hour and subject matter of any recess meeting, adjourned meeting, interim meeting or any called special meeting shall be posted within one (1) hour after such meeting is called in a prominent place available to examination and inspection by the general public in the building in which the public body normally meets. A copy of the notice shall be made a part of the minutes or other permanent official records of the public body.
 

(2) Any public body, other than a legislative committee, which does not have statutory provisions prescribing the times and places and the procedures by which its meetings are to be held shall, at its first regular or special meeting after July 1, 1990, spread upon its minutes the times and places and the procedures by which all of its meetings are to be held.
 

(3) During a regular or special session of the Mississippi Legislature, notice of meetings of all committees, other than conference committees, shall be given by announcement on the loudspeaker during sessions of the House of Representatives or Senate or by posting on a bulletin board provided for that purpose by each body.
 

(4) When not in session, the meetings times and places of all committees shall be kept by the Clerk of the House of Representatives as to House committees and by the Secretary of the Senate as to Senate committees, and shall be available at all times during regular working hours to the public and news media.
 

§ 25-41-15. Enforcement of the chapter, civil penalty.

The Mississippi Ethics Commission shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this chapter upon a complaint filed by any person. Upon receiving a complaint, the commission shall forward a copy of the complaint to the head of the public body involved. The public body shall have fourteen (14) days from receipt of the complaint to file a response with the commission. After receiving the response to the complaint or, if no response is received after fourteen (14) days, the commission, in its discretion, may dismiss the complaint or proceed by setting a hearing in accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Ethics Commission.

After a hearing, the Ethics Commission may order the public body to take whatever reasonable measures necessary, if any, to comply with this chapter. If the Ethics Commission finds that a member or members of a public body has willfully and knowingly violated the provisions of this chapter, the Ethics Commission may impose a civil penalty upon the individual members of the public body found to be in violation of the provision of this chapter in a sum not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for a first offense and One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for a second or subsequent offense, plus all reasonable expenses incurred by the person or persons in bringing the complaint to enforce this chapter.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the Ethics Commission from mediating or otherwise resolving disputes arising under this chapter or from entering orders agreed to by the parties. In carrying out its responsibilities under this section, the Ethics Commission shall have all the powers and authority granted to it in Title 25, Chapter 4, Mississippi Code of 1972.

Any party may petition the chancery court of the county in which the public body is located to enforce or appeal any order of the Ethics Commission issued pursuant to this chapter. In any such appeal the chancery court shall conduct a de novo review.

§ 25-41-17. Chance meetings and social gatherings excluded. The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to chance meetings or social gatherings of members of a public body.

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