Check out our guide to Tennessee laws on public records and open meetings.
You can view and download a PDF version of the guide here, Keys to Open Government.
“Keys to Open Government” was published in 2015 with a grant from the Tennessee Press Association Foundation.
If you would like to purchase a copy or copies, we would be happy to mail them to you or as a gift from you to another person.
Just fill out the form below. If you have any questions, contact Deborah Fisher, TCOG’s executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 602-4080.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Open Meetings Act
Who is subject to the Open Meetings Law
Th e Legislature exemption
What constitutes a meeting
Deliberations must be public
Notice of public meetings
Fairly inform the public
Issues of pervasive importance
Methods for notice
Minutes and secret votes
Violations of the Open Meetings Act
Curing a violation
Electronic participation in meetings
Electronic communication – Internet relay chat
Chapter 2 – Exceptions to the Open Meetings Act
Chance meetings and informal assemblages
Chapter 3 – Office of Open Records Counsel
Th e role of the OORC in disputes
Open Meetings complaint form
OORC advisory opinions and letters
Chapter 4 – Tennessee Public Records Act
What is a public record?
Th e law on how government must respond to requests
Getting the legal basis for denial
Who is subject to the public records law?
Private, non-government entities
Others subject to the law
Records specifically listed as open
Chapter 5 – Exemptions to the Public Records Act
Exemptions passed by the Legislature
Some email correspondence
Other laws that can exempt records
Rule 16(a)(2) and criminal prosecutions
Chapter 6 – Making a Public Records Request
No charge to inspect
“May” and “Shall”
Copy fees: “Schedule of Reasonable Charges”
Electronic records and other tech questions
What if records are denied?
What are the penalties for wrongly denying access?