Q: When is a corporation/organization a "quasi-governmental corporation" subject to the Open Meetings Law?
A: The Open Meetings Law applies only to governmental bodies as defined by section 19.82(1), Stats., and includes governmental and quasi-governmental corporations. In addition to the statutory definition, the DOJ's Compliance Guide includes a helpful listing of some specific "governmental bodies" as previously determined by the Attorney General, including a planning commission or zoning board of appeal, a committee appointed by the school superintendent to consider school library materials, departments of formally constituted subunits of the University of Wisconsin system or campus, and a county board of adjusters. Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Open Meetings Law: A Compliance Guide 2 (2005).
The term "quasi-governmental" is not defined and, therefore, is determined on a case by case basis. 80 Wis. Op Att'y Gen. 129 (1991) (OAG 20-91). Currently, there is no clear-cut rule or standard for this determination. Factors taken into account (but not necessarily considered sufficient for any particular outcome) by the Attorney General in previous opinions and letters include: whether or not the corporation serves a public function; how much funding comes from public sources; the fact that the bylaws reserve directors' positions for specified government officials; whether or not officers are appointed by a government body; and whether or not the corporation is housed in government offices and/or uses government staff and/or equipment. Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Open Meetings Law: A Compliance Guide 3 (2003).
Corporations created directly by the legislature or other governmental bodies pursuant to statutory authorization or direction are included in "governmental" or "quasi-governmental" designations. For example, a volunteer fire department created by private citizens is not a "governmental body," but one created by a town ordinance is. 66 Op. Att'y Gen. 113 (1977) (OAG 32-77).
Disclaimer: The Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on the Wisconsin FOIC website are provided by Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. (LaFollette Godfrey & Kahn is the Madison office of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.).
The information provided on this website is a service to the general public. The information provided is not legal advice. Do not act on this information without the advice of professional legal counsel, who must evaluate the facts of your situation in light of current laws before giving you legal advice.
Your use of this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship with our firm, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C., or with any of our attorneys. Please contact us directly if you would like to retain our firm as your legal counsel, www.gklaw.com. But do not send us confidential information until you have spoken with one of our attorneys. Before we can represent you, we must determine that no conflict of interest or other situation would prevent us from representing you. Our representation begins only after we complete our evaluation and agree in writing to represent you.