Who controls the agenda of a governing body meeting?
Although agendas are not required by any
state law, many governmental bodies, by custom or rule, use them. They
are commonly published to satisfy the meeting 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. secs. 62.11(3)(e) and 61.34(1). This
meeting rule authority includes the power to develop and enact agenda
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 Revised (10th ed.). See Governing Bodies
391. 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 make any 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 delegation of 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 391.