Who controls the agenda of a governing body meeting?
Although state law does not require using agendas, many governmental bodies use them. Agendas are commonly published to satisfy the public notice requirements of the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. They also serve important practical purposes by providing a structure that facilitates efficient and effective use of meeting time and curtails unproductive distractions by individual members of an assembly.
State law does not specifically vest agenda control in city councils and village boards. However, city councils and village boards are generally empowered to establish their meeting rules. See Wis. Stat. §§ 62.11(3)(e) and 61.34(1). This meeting rule authority includes the power to develop and enact agenda rules.
Outside of limited authority as presiding officers to deny a proposed agenda item for noncompliance with an Open Meetings Law requirement (e.g., timing), mayors and village presidents are not vested with any agenda control power by any state law or even Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised (11th ed.). See Governing Bodies 391R1. Accordingly, mayors and village presidents do not have general subject matter control over city council or village board agendas or unilateral authority to make agenda rules.
Because agendas are not required by any state law, city councils and village boards are not required to exercise their agenda control authority and establish agenda rules. However, if they choose to exercise their agenda control authority and create agenda rules, the rules must comply with all other applicable law including legal principles that prohibit delegating legislative power, which would prohibit agenda rules that give mayors or village presidents subject matter control over city council or village board agendas. See Governing Bodies 391R1. (rev. 11/19)