Senate Passes Bill Increasing Transparency and Strengthening Ohio's Open Meetings Law
COLUMBUS—Senate President Larry Obhof
(R-Medina) announced today that the Senate recently passed Senate Bill 293
, which strengthens Ohio’s open meetings laws. Obhof co-sponsored the bill, which establishes a formal procedure within the Court of Claims to hear complaints alleging violation of the Open Meetings Law.
Senate Bill 293 provides Ohioans with a more transparent, timely and affordable process for filing and settling such complaints. During the committee process, S.B. 293 received the support of Auditor of State Keith Faber, as well as the Ohio News Media Association and Ohio Association of Broadcasters.
“Under current law, citizens are often forced into lengthy and costly court proceedings, just to enforce their right to an open and democratic process,” said Obhof. "Senate Bill 293 streamlines this process and will lead to quicker resolutions of disputes, all while increasing transparency and improving access for Ohioans.”
Under S.B. 293, to file a complaint against a public body, a person simply has to complete a form prescribed by the clerk of the Court of Claims and pay a $25 filing fee. If the initial complaint is filed with the clerk of the court of common pleas, the clerk must forward the complaint to the Court of Claims within five business days. The special master assigned to the claim has thirty business days to submit a report and recommendations to the Court of Claims.
If the Court of Claims determines that a public body did in fact violate the Open Meetings Law, the court is required to issue an injunction compelling the public body to comply with the law. Furthermore, if a violation is found, the aggrieved person is entitled to recover the filing fee from the public body.
Senate Bill 293 will be now be sent to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration.