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Q: What is the Louisiana Open Meetings Law?
How does violating this law hurt your household with your disaster recovery?

A: The Open Meetings Law, found in R.S. 42:12 – 42:28, regulates meetings of public bodies.

The Open Meetings Law is meant to ensure that decisions by the government are made in an open forum. The Open Meetings Law operates in conjunction with Louisiana's Public Records Law to insure compliance with Article XII, Section 3 of the Louisiana Constitution's mandate that "No person shall be denied the right to observe the deliberations of public bodies and examine public documents, except in cases established by law." The Open Meetings Law is designed to ensure state integrity and to increase the public's trust and awareness of its governing officials.

Q: To whom does the Open Meetings Law apply? R.S. 42:14 R.S. 42:17

A: Louisiana's Open Meetings Law applies to the meetings of any "public body" unless an express provision in R.S. 42:16, R.S. 42:17, or R.S. 42:18 allows the meeting to be closed.

Q: What is a public body? R.S. 42:13

A: A "public body" is a village, town, and city governing authority; parish governing authority; boards, such as school, port, or levee boards; any other state, parish, municipal, or special district boards, commissions, or authorities, as well as any of their political subdivisions if the body possesses policy making, advisory, or administrative functions. Any committee or subcommittee of any of these bodies is also a public body.

Specifically, any municipal government, state agency, or political subdivision that has a policy making, administrative, or advisory function is subject to the Open Meetings Law. The law also applies to any official committee of the public body that has been delegated any of these functions by the public body, or any unofficial committee or gathering of the body that consists of a quorum of the body.

AG Op. 10-0155 cites the LA Supreme Court's four factor test for determining an entity's status as public or private: (1) whether the entity was created by the legislature, (2) whether its powers were specifically defined by the legislature, (3) whether the property of the entity belongs to the public, and (4) whether the entity's functions are exclusively of a public character and performed solely for the public benefit [State v. Smith, 357 So.2d 505 (La.1978)]. For a court to determine that an entity is public, all four factors must be present.

Q: How should the Open Meetings Law be interpreted?

According to R.S. 42:12(A), the Open Meetings Law should be construed liberally. This means that if there is a question as to interpretation of a provision the entity should provide as much access/openness as possible. The Open Meetings Law operates with a general premise that all meetings of public bodies should be open to the public. The burden, therefore, is on the individual seeking to engage in closed meetings to prove that an exception applies allowing the closing of the meeting.

Q: What is a meeting?

A meeting is a convening of a quorum of a public body to deliberate or act on a matter that the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power over. A meeting is also a convening of a quorum of a public body by the public body or a public official to receive information regarding a matter that the public body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power over.

The Open Meetings Law does not apply to chance meetings or social gatherings of members of a public body at which there is no vote or other action taken, including formal or informal polling of the members.

If a gathering consists of a quorum of the body or a meeting of a committee of the body to conduct any business of the body, the gathering should be presumed to be a meeting and, thus, subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Law.

Q: What is a Quorum? R.S. 42:13(A)(3)

The default definition of a quorum is a simple majority of the total membership of a public body. For example, for town council that has five (5) aldermen, three (3) members would constitute a quorum necessary to conduct business at a meeting. This default definition applies only in the absence of a statutorily defined quorum for the public body, which may be a greater or lesser percentage of the body. The Attorney General (AG) has stated in AG Op. No. 00-0144 that a public body cannot in its by-laws define a quorum as less than a majority of the total members. Such a by-law definition would abrogate the clearly stated definition in R.S. 42:13(A)(3). Absent a statutorily defined quorum for the body, the body's quorum must be a simple majority.

Vacant positions must be counted in determining a quorum and will not reduce the number of members required to be present to conduct business. AG. Op. No. 15-0172.

No official action may be undertaken by the body in the absence of a quorum of the body. A prohibited action, for example, could include debate on an item in the absence of a quorum, coupled with a vote without debate on the item in an open meeting. Members of the body, however, may engage in informal discussion of any matter in the absence of a quorum.

Q: What are the requirements of an Open Meeting? R.S. 42:1442:23

Meetings of public bodies are required to:

  • have notice of the meeting at least 24 hours before the meeting via placement of a copy of the notice at the place of the meeting or at the body's official office;
  • allow for some means of public comment; R.S. 42:14(D) requires each public body (except school boards) conducting a meeting that is subject to the notice requirement of R.S. 42:19(A), to allow a public comment period prior to action on an agenda item upon which a vote is to be taken.* The governing body may adopt reasonable rules and restrictions regarding this comment period;
  • allow for recording of the meeting by the audience;
  • record minutes of the proceedings; and
  • have "open" meetings – that is, observable to the public with an opportunity for public participation. Public bodies may not close their meetings to the public absent narrowly defined exceptions.

A copy of the Open Meetings Law must also be posted at the location of the meeting.

*School boards are required to allow public comment before taking any vote. The comment period shall be for each agenda item and shall precede each agenda item. R.S . 42:15(A).

Q: Is the public allowed to participate in Open Meetings? R.S. 42:14 - 42:18

A: Yes.

  • The legal purpose of open meetings is to allow individuals to observe and participate in the deliberations of public bodies. Meetings of public bodies must be open to the public unless closed pursuant to a statutory exception, such as set forth in R.S. 42:1642:18, which authorizes closed executive sessions. Public bodies must provide an opportunity for public comment prior to action on the agenda item upon which a vote is to be taken. The governing body may adopt reasonable rules and restrictions regarding the comment period.
  • R.S. 42:14, requires each public body, except school boards, conducting a meeting that is subject to the notice requirement of R.S. 42:19(A), to allow a public comment period prior to action on an agenda item upon which a vote is to be taken.
  • A similar obligation is imposed for school boards, except that public comment must occur prior to taking any vote and must occur before each topic and not at the beginning of the meeting. R.S. 42:15.

Q: What are the procedures to add to or delete items from an agenda? R.S. 42:19

Public bodies may adopt procedures for governing their meetings and providing how members may place items on the agenda, provided that such procedures comply with the timelines set forth in the notice provisions of the Open Meetings Law and applicable statutory or charter provisions for the introduction and passage of instruments (i.e. ordinances and resolutions).

To add items to an agenda at the meeting itself, the Open Meetings Law requires unanimous approval of the members present to add an item to the agenda. In no case may a public body, by ordinance, charter provision or policy, lessen this requirement to a majority vote. AG Op. No. 15-0122.

Any motion for a vote to add an item to the agenda shall include with reasonable specificity the subject matter of the additional agenda item and the purpose for adding the item to the agenda. Public comment on the motion must be allowed prior to any vote to add an item to the agenda.

R.S. 42:19, which sets forth the requirements for notice of meetings, states at (A)(1)(b)(ii) that the notice shall include the agenda. Furthermore, any matter proposed that is not on the agenda shall be identified with reasonable specificity in the motion to take up the matter not on the agenda, including the purpose for the addition to the agenda. The matter must also be entered into the minutes of the meeting. Prior to any vote by the public body on the motion to take up a matter not on the agenda, there must be an opportunity for public comment on the motion in accordance with R.S. 42:14 or 15. The public body shall not use its authority to take up a matter not on the agenda as a subterfuge to defeat the purposes of R.S. 42:12 through 23.

Unless required by ordinance, charter provision or adopted policy to the contrary, public entities may remove, table, or withdraw agenda items by a majority vote of those members present.


Research Resource:

FAQ No. 98    

Date: 3-16-2019 Updated: 3-16-2019 Subject:

From: Erin Monroe Wesley
Sent: Monday, September 19, 2016 9:58 AM
To: knapp@brac.org Don Pierson olivier@c100la.org sreilly@lamar.com mfaulk@centralcss.org
mayor@shreveportla.gov Johnny Bradberry shawndwilson@dota.louisiana.gov parich@lsu.edu
rjetson@me.com rharris@lma.org attyrol@aol.com jimmydurbin@bellsouth.net
jrobideaux@lafayettela.gov davennorris@hotmail.com commissioner@ldaf.state.us
james.ted@legis.la.gov morrishd@legis.state.la.us poper@legis.state.la.us shadoinr@legis.la.gov
suelkins@cox.net Jacqui Vines jvineswyatt@gmail.com


Cc: Pat Forbes Rowdy Gaudet Lori Dupont Erin Monroe WesleySubject: Restore Louisiana Task Force

Good Morning -
Thank you for agreeing to serve on the Governor's Restore Louisiana Task Force, which is charged with establishing short and long-term priorities in developing plans for recovery and redevelopment throughout the state of Louisiana as a result of the March and August flooding events. Our first meeting of the task force will be held on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., in House Committee Room 5 at the Louisiana State Capitol. Please let us know if you are able to attend by responding to Lori Dupont, copied here, at Lori.Dupont@la.gov. I have attached the following documents for your review and records in preparation for our first meeting:

  1. Executive Order JBE No. 16-65 creating the Restore Louisiana Task Force
  2. A letter from Governor Edwards to President Obama dated August 23, 2016
  3. A letter from Governor Edwards to President Obama dated September 12, 2016
  4. A letter from the Executive Office of the President, Office of Management & Budget, to House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and
  5. A flood briefing document prepared for our visits with members of Congress.

We would like to engage the members of the task force as early as this week in our meetings with HUD, FEMA, and GOHSEP this Friday, September 23rd . Please let us know if you would like to join us for these meetings this week.

Restore Louisiana Task Force Membership

  • Adam Knapp, President & CEO, Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Jacqui Vines, Retired Executive, Cox Communications
  • Don Pierson, Secretary, Louisiana Economic Development
  • Michael Olivier, CEO, Committee of 100 for Economic Development, Inc.
  • Sean Reilly, CEO, Lamar Advertising
  • Michael Faulk, Superintendent, Central Community School System
  • Ollie Tyler, Mayor, City of Shreveport
  • Johnny Bradberry, Executive Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Affairs, Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority Board Chairman
  • Dr. Shawn Wilson, Secretary, Department of Transportation & Development
  • Dr. James A. Richardson, State Economist
  • Raymond Jetson, Board Member, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, President & CEO, MetroMorphosis
  • Ronnie Harris, Executive Director, Louisiana Municipal Association
  • Roland Dartez, Executive Director, Louisiana Police Jury Association
  • Jimmy Durbin, Former Mayor, City of Denham Springs
  • Joel Robideaux, Mayor-President, Lafayette Parish
  • Dave Norris, Mayor, City of West Monroe
  • Mike Strain, Commissioner, Department of Agriculture & Forestry
  • Edward "Ted" James, State Representative, District 101
  • Dan W. &ldquoBlade&rdquo Morrish, State Senator, District 25
  • J. Rogers Pope, State Representative, District 71
  • Robert E. Shadoin, State Representative, District 12
  • Suzie Elkins, Consultant

Restore Louisiana Task Force Staff Support

  • Erin Monroe Wesley, Special Counsel, Office of the Governor
  • Pat Forbes, Executive Director, Office of Community Development
  • Rowdy Gaudet, Chief of Staff, Office of Community Development
  • Lori Dupont, Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, Office of Community Development

Additional staffers to be identified.
We look forward to working with each of you in our state's recovery efforts.

Erin
Erin Monroe Wesley
Special Counsel (Policy Director/Legislative Affairs)

FAQ No. 140    

Date: 7-13-2019 Updated: 7-13-2019 Subject: State Directors

For Disaster Related and Preparation visit your OHSEP website linked here:

FAQ No. 139    

Date: 7-9-2019 Updated: 7-9-2019 Subject: OHSEP

Dear Homeowner,

You are receiving this notification because you have not closed on your grant award offered by Restore Louisiana.

Please note that you MUST execute your grant agreement by Wednesday, July 31, 2019 or the grant offered will be rescinded and you will no longer be able to participate in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program.

Please reach out to your assigned Case Manager as soon as possible to schedule your closing:

Case Manager Name: [SNIP]
Case Manager Email: [SNIP]
Case Manager Phone: [SNIP]

Sincerely,

The Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program

Editors note: Case Workers appear to be titled Case Managers which would match the states policy that any manager can find a homeowner not cooperative and rescind their grant award and drop them from the program. This information was publish in Feb. 2019 and offered by the lead legal adviser for the state of Louisiana OCD-DRU.

FAQ No. 138    

Date: 7-9-2019 Updated: 7-9-2019 Subject: State Contractors

Documents from Housing and Urban Development Department

Housing and Urban Development Department
Notice


Applicability of Updates to Duplication of Benefits Requirements under the Stafford Act for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grantees


Abstract: Elsewhere in the Federal Register, the Department published the notice ' Updates to Duplication of Benefits Requirements Under the Stafford Act for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Grantees,' which reflects the requirements of recent CDBG disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) supplemental appropriations acts and amendments to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This notice makes conforming amendments to notices governing CDBG-DR grants...

Updates to Duplication of Benefits Requirements Under the Stafford Act for Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Grantees

Abstract: This notice describes the requirements to prevent duplication of benefits applicable to Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) grants received in response to a disaster declared between 2015 and 2021. It updates existing duplication of benefits requirements to reflect recent CDBG-DR supplemental appropriations acts and amendments to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act impacting certain grantees. The notice also includes minor...

FAQ No. 137    

Date: 6-20-2019 Updated: 6-20-2019 Subject: CDBG-DR

State of Louisiana HUD CDBG-DR AMI (%) Percentage.

AMI up to 80% 2018 (low to moderate) PDF Download.

AMI up to 120% 2018/19 (average) PDF Download.

Need more information? Here's your jump board.

If your AMI changed from below 80% to over 80% and under 120% you can appeal that your increase has not be for two consecutive years. Over 120% AMI you can argue the on the same grounds if your increase has not been for 2 consecutive years. (Based on light Sunday reading)

Those of you that are over HUD's income limits (120%) and would like to understand more about how HUD determines over income limits this link is for you.
Resource link: FR-2018-07-26

Very Low Income * 2.4 = 120% AMI.
Very Low Income is 50% AMI.
Example: State wide VLI family of 2 = $24,850
$24,850 * 2.4 = $59,640 120% or HUD Income Limit.
So be sure the state doesn't use the math I just showed you. Some areas are much higher while others are lower. The state really likes to put everyone in one box, so look out for a spreadsheet with the above calculations in VLI for your areas.

Example: Louisiana State Wide 120% AMI.

Research Resources:

FAQ No. 135    

Date: 6-16-2019 Updated: 6-16-2019 Subject: AMI

34. Rental assistance to displaced homeowners. The requirement of 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8) are modified to authorize grantees to extend rental assistance payments on behalf of qualified homeowners for up to 24 months. After a disaster, many homeowners encounter unanticipated delays and scarcity of available construction and/or elevation contractors in their area. While undergoing rehabilitation of their homes, most of these homeowners are forced to pay not only a mortgage, but a rental payment as well since their homes are not inhabitable. In other cases, homeowners who have paid off their mortgages must accommodate this additional rental expense into their budgets. In order to provide temporary financial assistance to these families, many of whom are low- or moderateincome households, HUD is modifying the requirements at 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8) to the extent necessary to allow grantees to provide up to 24 months of homeowner rental assistance to eligible applicants within the grantee's singlefamily rehabilitation/reconstruction programs. In the case of rehabilitation programs in which the homeowner is responsible for construction oversight, the grantee must establish performance milestones for the rehabilitation that are to be met by the homeowner in order to receive such payments. A grantee using this alternative requirement must document, in its policies and procedures, how it will determine the amount of assistance to be provided is necessary and reasonable. Homeowners receiving interim mortgage assistance are not eligible for rental assistance.


Resource Research:

FAQ No. 134    

Date: 6-15-2019 Updated: 6-15-2019 Subject: Allocations

33. Limitation on emergency grant payments - interim mortgage assistance. 42 U.S.C. 5305(a)(8) is modified to extend interim mortgage assistance to qualified individuals from 3 months to up to 20 months. Interim mortgage assistance is typically used in conjunction with a buyout program, or the rehabilitation or reconstruction of single-family housing, during which mortgage payments may be due but the home is uninhabitable. The time required for a household to complete the rebuilding process may often extend beyond 3 months, during which mortgage payments may be due but the home is inhabitable. Thus, this interim assistance will be critical for many households facing financial hardship during this period. Grantees may use interim housing rehabilitation payments to expedite recovery assistance to homeowners, but must establish performance milestones for the rehabilitation that are to be met by the homeowner in order to receive such payments. A grantee using this alternative requirement must document, in its policies and procedures, how it will determine the amount of assistance to be provided is necessary and reasonable.


Resource Research:

FAQ No. 133    

Date: 6-15-2019 Updated: 6-15-2019 Subject: Allocations

"Dear Homeowner,

You are receiving this notification because you have not closed on your grant award offered by Restore Louisiana.

Please note that you MUST execute your grant agreement by Wednesday, July 31, 2019 or the grant offered will be rescinded and you will no longer be able to participate in the Restore Louisiana Homeowner Assistance Program. "

According to reports filed for April and May the state of Louisiana Office of Community Development Disaster Recovery Unit working under the name of Restore Louisiana Homeowners Program has increased it's speed of processing grant awards by increasing the number of rescinded grants offered to homeowners.

April of 2019, 30 homeowners have had their HUD CDBG-DR grant awards rescinded by the state for state created policy reasons.

May of 2019 278 homeowners have had their HUD CDBG-DR grant awards rescinded by the state for state created policy reasons.

The state of Louisiana's timing will match the 3rd year since the flood and fall on or close to the anniversary date of the August 12th 2016 floods.

It appears the state has not formally offered homeowners with alternatives to their recovery. With over 2,000 homeowners at risk of losing everything from the flood to include all additional grant funds for unmet needs the state will face additional homelessness and blight as a result of meeting goals and deadline.

HUD officially allows the state to run the distribution of funds up and to the Sept. 2022. The state of Louisiana OCD-DRU has announced several times the closing dates of programs in 2018 and continues by rewording the closing of programs to the rescinding of grant awards.

"Elsewhere, this notice describes the extension of the expenditure deadline that the Department is authorized to provide to all CDBG-NDR (NDR = National Disaster Resilience) grantees, allowing them to expend funds until September 30, 2022. "

Grantee Name: Louisiana
Grant Number: B-16-DL-22_0001
Grant Award: $1,708,407,000
Balance: $973,501,310
Average of March, April, May Spending: $23,334,110
Grantee Spending Status: On Pace

NOTE: On Pace = Spending greater than the monthly pace required to fully use the grant by target closeout date.

Research Resource:

FAQ No. 132    

Date: 6-13-2019 Updated: 6-13-2019 Subject: State Contractors

Tulane University , LSU, University of Louisiana at Lafayette did you receive your invitation to bid on what Executive Order Number JBE 2018 - 16 details?

Do you have copies of the discussions and first drafts?

"WHEREAS, Louisiana has invested and is continuing to invest significant resources toward creating organizations such as The Water Institute of the Gulf and university centers that build the state's strength as a unique, global leader in water management; and
"

Have you participated with the collection of data related to Mississippi River Basin Wide Modeling in the past decade with a group called "The Water Institute of the Gulf?"

Several Not For Profits, For Profits, and University Science Research groups may have been purposely excluded from grant awards published in Public Law 115-123.

Editors Note: Has the state of Louisiana and it's capital region taken economic development over collaborated scientific research between Not for Profits, Universities and For Profit organizations?

Modeling software developed by one university may share the same data as another and provides slightly different results. Modeling software such as Hurricane Tracking software often produces different results. They may be similar but no two data calculating applications seem to produce the same results. Many factors are included but are not important for this report. What is important is knowing that non technical, non science community individuals have lobbied for specific modeling software provided by a group that is located in a part of the state of Louisiana that is only interested in economic growth from the grant awards related to Public Law 115-123.


FAQ No. 131    

Date: 6-13-2019 Updated: 6-13-2019 Subject: Watershed

Let's first start off with some resources to bring you up to speed.

Then, in a article we'll share what one homeowner is doing in the southern state of Louisiana to fight against rusty ducts, dirt, moisture in the air and just plan cool sticky inside the home. Enough, we're not from the stone age, let's work the science of building.

Resources to read:

FAQ No. 130    

Date: 6-9-2019 Updated: 6-9-2019 Subject: Construction

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