CGA Law News & Blog

Amendment to Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act Restricts Local Government’s Ability to Amend Meeting Agenda

access_time Posted on: March 26th, 2024

In 2021, the Sunshine Act was amended to provide new requirements for publishing and posting public meeting agendas.  The amendment required local governing bodies to post agendas to their publicly accessible website at least 24 hours in advance of the public meeting. The Sunshine Act amendment, however, provided limited exceptions to allow governing bodies to add items to its already published agenda within 24 hours of the public meeting or at the public meeting.  Those exceptions are enumerated in Section 712.1 of the Sunshine Act and include the following:

  1. a matter that relates to a real or potential emergency involving a clear and present danger to life or property; or
  2. a matter brought to the attention of the agency within the 24-hour period prior to the meeting, provided the matter is de minimis in nature and does not involve the expenditure of funds or entering into any contract or agreement; or
  3. a matter raised by a resident or taxpayer at the meeting to be considered for the purposes of referring it to staff, researching it for inclusion at a later meeting, or for full consideration where it is de minimis and does not involve the expenditure of funds or entering into any contract or agreement; or
  4. a majority of the members present at the meeting vote to add an item to the agenda.

A decision was rendered on November 8, 2023, interpreting Section 712.1 of the Sunshine Act. In Coleman v. Parkland School District, the Commonwealth Court held that local governing bodies are only permitted to amend the agenda within 24 hours of the public meeting if one of the first three exceptions above are met.  The Commonwealth Court clarified that a fourth exception was not created; but rather it created the procedure to follow if (1), (2), or (3) were met.  In order for a public agency to add an item to its agenda for official action, the item must first meet one of the three exceptions, and then the agency must vote to add the item to the agenda by majority vote, pursuant to Section 712.1. 

This decision contradicts the initial interpretation and understanding of theamendment to the Sunshine Act.  A Petition for Allowance of Appeal has been filed requesting the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reverse the Commonwealth Court’s decision in Coleman v. Parkland School District. CGA Law Firm will continue to monitor this case diligently. Should you have any questions concerning the amendment to the Sunshine Act, please contact one of our Municipal Law attorneys.

CGA Law Firm Attorney; Devon Myers

Devon Myers Kolomick

Shareholder, Attorney

Devon Myers Kolomick is the Chair of CGA Law Firm’s Municipal Practice Group and is a Shareholder at CGA Law Firm. She provides general legal service to individuals and businesses in the areas of estate planning and administration, real estate, business law and municipal law.

Read Devon’s Bio Page in full HERE.