AGO Opinion 97008
Commission and approval of Commission minutes
DATE: January 13, 1997
SUBJECT: Commission and approval of Commission minutes
REQUESTED BY: Mr. Alfonza Whitaker, Executive Director
Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission
WRITTEN BY: Don Stenberg, Attorney General
Suzanna Glover-Ettrich, Assistant Attorney General
You have requested an Attorney General's Opinion regarding the
proper procedure for an individual Commissioner of the Nebraska
Equal Opportunity Commission who wishes to challenge, amend, or
correct the minutes from a previous Commission meeting.
Particularly, the Commissioners wanted to know if it is permissible
for a Commissioner to prepare his/her own version of the minutes
and submit same to the Commissioners, thus becoming part of the
Commission meeting documents and a public record. We conclude that
an individual Commissioner may offer his/her own version of the
minutes as a motion to amend the minutes from a previous Commission
The Nebraska public meetings law, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 84-1408-
1414 (1994), which applies to meetings of the Nebraska Equal
Opportunity Commission, is intended to ensure that public policy is
formulated at open meetings. Marks v. Judicial Nominating
Committee, 236 Neb. 429, 461 N.W.2d 551 (1990). Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 84-1413 (1994) requires that each public body keep minutes of all
meetings showing the time, place, members present and absent, and
the substance of all matters discussed. The minutes of all
meetings and evidence and documentation received or disclosed in
open session are public records and open to the public inspection
during normal business hours. § 84-1413(4). Minutes shall be
written and available for inspection within ten working days or
prior to the next convened meeting, whichever occurs earlier.
§ 84-1413(5). As a general rule, a public body may, at a
subsequent meeting, if no intervening rights of third persons have
arisen, order the minutes or record of its own proceedings at a
previous meeting to be corrected according to the facts, so as to
make them speak the truth, although the record has once been
approved. State ex. rel. Schuler v. Dunbar, 214 Neb. 85, 333
N.W.2d 652 (1983) (citing 56 Am. Jur. 2d Municipal Corporations,
etc. § 179 (1971)). The purpose of a nunc pro tunc correction is
to make the record speak the truth and not to correct oversights or
failures in the performance of mandatory acts. Schuler, 214 Neb.
at 89. Further, corrections made in the minutes should be made
within a reasonable time. Village of McGrew v. Steidley, 208 Neb.
726, 736, 305 N.W.2d 627 (1981).
Under Robert's Rules of Order, the parliamentary authority
which the Commission has adopted, the proper procedure for an
individual Commissioner who wishes to amend or correct the minutes
from a previous Commission meeting depends on whether or not the
minutes have been adopted by the Commission. A Commissioner may
either make a motion to amend the minutes before adoption or after
adoption. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, §§ 12, 34 (9th
ed. 1990) [Robert's]. For important or complex questions, or when
greater formality is desired, a Commissioner would present the
motion in the form of a resolution. A resolution or a long or
complicated motion should be prepared in advance of the meeting, if
possible, and should be put into writing before it is offered.
Robert's at § 4.
The motion to amend minutes before adoption is a subsidiary
motion and must be seconded; this motion is debatable, amendable,
and can be reconsidered. Robert's at § 12. Action on the motion to
amend the minutes before adoption requires at least four votes.
Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1116 (1993) (see also Op. Att'y Gen. No. 96048
of June 7, 1996). Further, any action taken on any motion shall be
by roll call vote of the Commission in open session, and the record
shall state how each member voted or if the member was absent or
not voting. Neb. Rev. Stat. 84-1413(2) (1994).
Under Robert's Rules of Order, there are two motions which can
be used to correct minutes after adoption - a motion to Rescind and
a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted. Robert's at § 34.
A motion to Rescind - also known as Repeal or Annul - is the motion
by which a previous action or order can be cancelled or
countermanded. The effect of a motion to Rescind is to strike out
an entire main motion, resolution, rule, bylaw, section, or
paragraph that has been adopted at some previous time. Amend
Something Previously Adopted is the motion that can be used if it
is desired to change only a part of the text, or to substitute
different versions. The motions to Rescind and to Amend Something
Previously Adopted can be made only when no other motion is
pending, must be seconded, and are debatable and amendable. Only a
negative vote on these motions can be reconsidered and approval
requires the vote of at least four Commissioners. Neb. Rev. Stat.
§ 48-1116 (1993).
You also requested an opinion regarding the process for
approving minutes when there is a disagreement between the
Commissioners relative to the minutes. According to Robert's Rules
of Order, the minutes of each meeting are normally read and
approved at the beginning of the next regular meeting, immediately
after the call to order; corrections, if any, and approval of the
minutes are normally done by unanimous consent. Robert's at §§ 4,
47. To obtain general consent, the chair states that "If there is
no objection . . .," the minutes will be approved. If any member
objects, the chair must state the question on the motion, allow any
desired debate, and put the question to a vote. Robert's at § 4.
As with any other motion, approval of the minutes by the Commission
requires at least four votes. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1116 (1993).
Op. Att'y Gen. No. 81162 of December 24, 1981, stated that should
there be a disapproval or correction of the minutes which have
already been published, that fact should be published after the
meeting where the disapproval was noted.
Assistant Attorney General
FAX (402) 471-3591
DON STENBERG, Attorney General