Guide to Tennessee laws

The general assembly hereby declares it to be the policy of this state that the formation of public policy and decisions is public business and shall not be conducted in secret. 

T.C.A. § 8-44-101 (Tennessee Open Meetings Act)
Keys to Open Government was published in 2015 with a grant from the Tennessee Press Association Foundation. You can download it for free as a PDF.

The above opening statement in the Tennessee Open Meetings Act, popularly known as the “Sunshine Law,” underscores that Tennesseans have a legal presumption of open government in their Constitution and separate open meetings and public records laws. Since that presumption has not been universally accepted by everyone in government, the burden of enforcing the letter, intent, and spirit of all three often falls on the shoulders of the public and press.

We hope the information on this page, based on TCOG’s popular Keys to Open Government booklet, will enhance the ability of journalists, citizens, and people in government to understand the rights of access to government information.

This information is not intended to be legal advice. Its purpose is to spread knowledge that can make navigating the law less frustrating for regular citizens.

Tennessee Open Meetings Act

Who is subject to the Open Meetings Law

What constitutes a meeting

Adequate public notice of meetings

Minutes and secret votes

Violations of the Open Meetings Act

Electronic participation in meetings

Electronic communication – Internet forums for governing bodies

Labor negotiations

Exceptions to the Open Meetings Act

Chance meetings and informal assemblages

Closed meetings under attorney-client privilege

Other exceptions to the Open Meetings Act

Tennessee Public Records Act

What is a public record

Government response to public records request

Who is subject to the public records law?