Public Meeting Law: Louisiana
"The legislature has made it clear that any means used to circumvent the intent of the Open Meetings Law, such as proxy voting procedure, secret balloting, and informal polling, are prohibited. La. R.S. 42:14(B). One common way in which public bodies may violate these laws is through a "walking" or "rolling" quorum. A "walking" or "rolling" quorum is a procedural device used to have conversations with a quorum of the public body through multiple smaller conversations of less than a quorum. A "walking" or "rolling" quorum is unlawful because while no conversation has occurred with an actual quorum physically present at a single location, a quorum effectively participates in a discussion of an issue. Such action is impermissible because it enables a public body to determine how a majority of the public body would vote on an issue while depriving the public of the benefit of observing such a discussion and being able to offer public comments. La. Atty. Gen. Op. Nos. 12-0177 and 90-349."
AG Op. No. 19-0128.
Public Meeting Law Louisiana: What is a Walking Quorum?
For purposes of the Open Meetings Law, a “walking quorum” is a meeting of a
public body in which some members leave the meeting and different members
enter the meeting, precluding the physical presence of an actual quorum, but
resulting in an actual quorum over the course of the discussion.
AG Op. No. 12-0177, AG Op. No. 17-0026 and AG Op. No. 19-0128
Gatherings at which there is not a quorum present are not meetings under the
Open Meetings Law, as presence of a quorum for the gathering is required for the
gathering to constitute a meeting. According to Brown v. East Baton Rouge
Parish School Board, 405 So.2d 1147 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1981) and
AG Op. No. 04-0004, walking quorums, in which members of the body come and
go, or in which absent members are contacted during the meeting so as to prevent
a physical quorum of the body, are not allowed and violate prohibitions against
circumventing the intent of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law.
A walking quorum can also occur via email or other electronic means where there
are conversations with a quorum of the public body through multiple smaller
conversations of less than a quorum. The AG has stated that such walking
quorums are “unlawful because while no conversation occurred with an actual
quorum physically present at a single location, a quorum effectively participates
in the discussion of the issue” without the public having the benefit of observing
the discussion. AG Op. No. 19-0128.
Polling of a quorum of a public body is not permissible under the Open Meetings
Law as the public should not be deprived of the opportunity to observe the
deliberations of a public body in deciding upon a course of actions.
"A member who polls a majority of the members of a public body on a
matter which may later be considered by the public body as a whole may
violate the Open Meetings Law if the poll is used to circumvent the purpose
and intent of the Open Meetings Law. Knowing how a majority of the public
body will vote on a matter prior to the actual vote at a properly noticed
public meeting can mean that a measure passes with little debate or that a
measure is never brought up for debate." AG Op. No. 14-0065
Are there any exceptions to the Open Meeting Requirements?
The governor has declared a state of emergency or disaster involving a
geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body and the nature of
the emergency or disaster would cause a meeting of the public body
conducted pursuant to the open meetings law to be detrimental to the
health, safety, or welfare of the public.
The presiding officer of the public body certifies on the notice of the
meeting that the agenda of the meeting is limited to one or more of the
A matter directly related to the public body's response to the disaster
or emergency and which is critical to the health, safety, or welfare of the
A matter that, if they are delayed, will cause curtailment of vital public
services or severe economic dislocation and hardship.
A matter that is critical to continuation of the business of the public
body and that is not able to be postponed due to a legal requirement or
other deadline that cannot be postponed or delayed by the public body.
Other matters that are critical or time-sensitive and that in the
determination of the presiding officer should not be delayed; however,
such matters shall not be considered at the meeting unless the members of
the body present at the meeting approve the consideration of the matters
by a two-thirds vote.**
No later than 24 hours prior to a meeting conducted under new law the
public body shall provide for all of the following:
The notice and agenda for the meeting shall be posted on the website
of the public body, emailed to any member of the public or the news
media who requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely
distributed to every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes
news within the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body.
Detailed information regarding how members of the public may
participate in the meeting and submit comments regarding matters on the
agenda, which information shall be posted on the website of the public
body, emailed to any member of the public or the news media who
requests notice of meetings of the public body, and widely distributed to
every known news media outlet that broadcasts or publishes news within
the geographic area within the jurisdiction of the public body
The telephone or video conference meeting under this exception must be conducted as
See Act 302 of the 2020 Regular Session.
** Added by Act 42 of the 2020 2nd Extraordinary Session.
The public body shall provide a mechanism to receive public comment
electronically both prior to and during the meeting.
The public body shall properly identify and acknowledge all public
comments during the meeting and shall maintain those comments in its
record of the meeting.
The presiding officer of the public body shall ensure that each person
participating in the meeting is properly identified.
The presiding officer shall ensure that all parts of the meeting, excluding
any matter discussed in executive session, are clear and audible to all
participants in the meeting including the public.