What is an Open Meeting?

The Iowa Public Information Board is an independent agency governed by nine members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They offer training to governmental bodies and are a good source of information regarding both Open Meetings and Open Records.

The Attorney General has issued Sunshine Advisories relating to both Open Meetings and Open Records.

What is a closed session? A closed session is a session where the governmental body is able to discuss issues without members of the public present.

Iowa Code Chapter 21.5 lists valid reasons for holding a closed session, rules of conduct during closed session, and how governmental bodies may take action based on discussion during the closed session.


Iowa Code Chapter 21 governs meetings of governmental bodies.

21.1 Intent — declaration of policy.

This chapter seeks to assure, through a requirement of open meetings of governmental bodies, that the basis and rationale of governmental decisions, as well as those decisions themselves, are easily accessible to the people. Ambiguity in the construction or application of this chapter should be resolved in favor of openness.

21.2 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

1. “Governmental body” means:
a. A board, council, commission, or other governing body expressly created by the statutes of this state or by executive order.
b. A board, council, commission, or other governing body of a political subdivision or tax-supported district in this state.
c. A multimembered body formally and directly created by one or more boards, councils, commissions, or other governing bodies subject to paragraphs “a” and “b” of this subsection.
d. Those multimembered bodies to which the state board of regents or a president of a university has delegated the responsibility for the management and control of the intercollegiate athletic programs at the state universities.
e. An advisory board, advisory commission, or task force created by the governor or the general assembly to develop and make recommendations on public policy issues.
f. A nonprofit corporation other than a fair conducting a fair event as provided in chapter 174, whose facilities or indebtedness are supported in whole or in part with property tax revenue and which is licensed to conduct pari-mutuel wagering pursuant to chapter 99D or a nonprofit corporation which is a successor to the nonprofit corporation which built the facility.
g. A nonprofit corporation licensed to conduct gambling games pursuant to chapter 99F.
h. An advisory board, advisory commission, advisory committee, task force, or other body created by statute or executive order of this state or created by an executive order of a political subdivision of this state to develop and make recommendations on public policy issues.
i. The governing body of a drainage or levee district as provided in chapter 468, including a board as defined in section 468.3, regardless of how the district is organized.
j. An advisory board, advisory commission, advisory committee, task force, or other body created by an entity organized under chapter 28E, or by the administrator or joint board specified in a chapter 28E agreement, to develop and make recommendations on public policy issues.

2. “Meeting” means a gathering in person or by electronic means, formal or informal, of a majority of the members of a governmental body where there is deliberation or action upon any matter within the scope of the governmental body’s policy-making duties. Meetings shall not include a gathering of members of a governmental body for purely ministerial or social purposes when there is no discussion of policy or no intent to avoid the purposes of this chapter.
3. “Open session” means a meeting to which all members of the public have access.

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1. How do I run for an elected City office? What resources are available?
2. Does the Council have a rules or policy manual?
3. Who is my council representative?
4. Where do I obtain a copy of the City Council agenda or meeting minutes?
5. Where can I find videos of the council meetings?
6. Who maintains the meeting schedule?
7. What is an Open Meeting?