Commonwealth Court: Local Agencies Prohibited from Adding Non-Emergency/Non-De Minimis Items to Agendas During Meetings  

Last week, in Coleman v. Parkland School District, ___ A.3d ___, 2023 WL 7171857 (Pa.Cmwlth. Nov. 8, 2023), a divided panel with a 2-1 vote of the nine-member Commonwealth Court ruled that local agencies may not add non-emergency and non-de minimis items to agendas during meetings, thus rejecting interpretations that Section 712.1(e) of the Sunshine Act, which was added in 2021 (Act 65), could be used to add any item to the agenda by majority vote during the meeting.  

The court held that Section 712.1 of the Sunshine Act offers only “three exceptions to the general prohibition that allow agency action on matters not previously listed in the meeting agenda: in cases of (1) emergency business; (2) de minimis business not involving fund expenditure or entering into a contract that arises within the 24 hours preceding the meeting, and (3) de minimis business raised by a resident/taxpayer during the meeting that does not involve fund expenditure or entering into a contract.”  

The dissenting opinion argued legislators intended that Section 712.1(e) of the Sunshine Act is a “standalone, remedial exception that permits the agency to correct whatever caused an item of business to be omitted from the agenda published in accordance with Section 709(c)(1)” or they would not have included it.  

There is no word yet on whether this decision will be appealed to the Supreme Court. Unless and until the Supreme Court reverses this decision, townships should ensure that the only items that are added to their agendas during public meetings are those that fall within Sections 712.1(b), (c), and (d) of the Sunshine Act.   

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