ASSEMBLY, No. 5287







Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  RONALD S. DANCER

District 12 (Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean)


Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Dunn






     Requires certain public bodies to provide minimum time for public comment at certain public meetings.



     As introduced.


An Act requiring certain public bodies to provide a minimum time for public comment period at certain public meetings, and amending P.L.1975, c.231. 


     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


     1.  Section 7 of P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-12) is amended to read as follows: 

     7.  a.  Except as provided by subsection b. of this section all meetings of public bodies shall be open to the public at all times.  Nothing in this act shall be construed to limit the discretion of a public body to permit, prohibit, or regulate the active participation of the public at any meeting, except that a [municipal governing] public body [and a board of education], other than the Legislature, shall be required to set aside a portion of every meeting of the [municipal governing] public body [or board of education, the length of the portion to be determined by the municipal governing body or board of education,] for public comment [on] prior to consideration of items on the agenda by the public body at the meeting, with such comments being limited to items on the agenda and to any governmental [or school district] issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to the [residents of the municipality or school district] public body.  Each member of the public shall be allowed to speak for at least three minutes per comment period.

     b.    A public body may exclude the public only from that portion of a meeting at which the public body discusses any:

     (1)   matter which, by express provision of federal law, State statute, or rule of court shall be rendered confidential or excluded from the provisions of subsection a. of this section;

     (2)   matter in which the release of information would impair a right to receive funds from the Government of the United States;

     (3)   material the disclosure of which constitutes an unwarranted invasion of individual privacy such as any records, data, reports, recommendations, or other personal material of any educational, training, social service, medical, health, custodial, child protection, rehabilitation, legal defense, welfare, housing, relocation, insurance, and similar program or institution operated by a public body pertaining to any specific individual admitted to or served by an institution or program, including but not limited to, information relative to the individual's personal and family circumstances, and any material pertaining to admission, discharge, treatment, progress, or condition of any individual, unless the individual concerned (or, in the case of a minor or an incapacitated individual, the individual's guardian) shall request in writing that the material be disclosed publicly;

     (4)   collective bargaining agreement, or the terms and conditions which are proposed for inclusion in any collective bargaining agreement, including the negotiation of the terms and conditions thereof with employees or representatives of employees of the public body;

     (5)   matter involving the purchase, lease, or acquisition of real property with public funds, the setting of banking rates, or investment of public funds, if it could adversely affect the public interest if discussion of the matters were disclosed;

     (6)   tactics and techniques utilized in protecting the safety and property of the public, provided that their disclosure could impair that protection, or investigations of violations or possible violations of the law;

     (7)   pending or anticipated litigation or contract negotiation other than in subsection b. (4) herein in which the public body is, or may become, a party, or matters falling within the attorney-client privilege, to the extent that confidentiality is required in order for the attorney to exercise his ethical duties as a lawyer;

     (8)   matter involving the employment, appointment, termination of employment, terms and conditions of employment, evaluation of the performance of, promotion, or disciplining of any specific prospective public officer or employee or current public officer or employee employed or appointed by the public body, unless all the individual employees or appointees whose rights could be adversely affected request in writing that the matter or matters be discussed at a public meeting; or

     (9)   deliberations of a public body occurring after a public hearing that may result in the imposition of a specific civil penalty upon the responding party or the suspension or loss of a license or permit belonging to the responding party as a result of an act or omission for which the responding party bears responsibility.

(cf: P.L.2013, c.103, s.57)


     2.  This act shall take effect on the 60th day after the date of enactment. 





     Currently, the "Open Public Meetings Act," N.J.S.A.10:4-6 et seq., OPMA, only requires municipal governing bodies and local boards of education to provide a public comment period.  Under the bill, OPMA will require all public bodies, other than the Legislature, to set aside a portion of every meeting for public

comment on the items on the meeting agenda and any governmental issue that a member of the public feels may be of concern to that public body.  Under the bill, members of the public will be given at least three minutes to speak per public comment period.