On June 30, 2021, Governor Wolf approved Senate Bill No. 554, which amends the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 701-716. The changes from Senate Bill 554 are effective on August 29, 2021 (sixty (60) days after its approval). These changes require that municipal authorities provide notice of their meetings and make their meeting agenda available to the public. Furthermore, once the meeting agenda is finalized, the authority may not take any official action on any items not listed on such notice, except in emergency situations, or to consider matters de minimis in nature.
Specifically, Senate Bill 554 amends Section 709 of the Sunshine Act, relating to public notice, to require an authority (in addition to any public notice previously required) to provide the following notification of authority business to be considered at a meeting:
- The [Authority] shall post the meeting agenda, including a listing of each business matter, on its website no later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting.
- The [Authority] shall post the meeting agenda at the location of the meeting and the principal office of the [Authority].
- The [Authority] shall make copies of the agenda available to individuals in attendance at the meeting.
These new requirements and the various exceptions listed below do not apply to a conference, a working session, or an executive session.
Senate Bill 554 includes exceptions to when an authority may take official action despite not having provided the proper notice:
- Emergency Business: An Authority may take official action on a matter relating to a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property regardless of whether public notice was given.
- Business Arising Within 24 Hours Before Meeting: An Authority may take action if the matter arises within a 24-hour period before the meeting, and is de minimis in nature, and does not involve an expenditure of funds or entering into a contract or agreement by the Authority.
- Business Arising During Meeting: If during the meeting a resident or taxpayer brings a matter of business not listed, the authority may take action to refer the matter to staff for inclusion on a future agenda, or if the matter is de minimis in nature and does not involve an expenditure of funds or entering into a contract, the authority may take official action.
- Changes to Agenda: Upon a majority vote of individuals present and voting, an authority may add a matter of authority business. Reasons for such change must be announced at the meeting before the vote to change the agenda. The authority may then take official action on the added agenda item(s). Thereafter, the amended agenda must be posted on the authority's website and at the principal office no later than the first business day following the meeting.
If you have any additional questions regarding Senate Bill 554, please reach out to a GTN Law attorney today.