SC judge rules emergency must be proven before agenda change

January 18, 2020 GMT

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (AP) — A judge in a Freedom of Information Act case has ruled a two-thirds vote isn’t enough for city and county councils to change an agenda during a meeting.

The North Augusta City Council was sued after it added work on a dam to a list of items to be covered by the extension of a sales tax at a May 2018 meeting.

Justice Clifton Newman agreed the city followed changes made in open records law in 2015 requiring a two-thirds vote to change an agenda less than 24 hours before a meeting.

But the judge ruled North Augusta council members failed to prove an “emergency or an exigent circumstance” for making the change that was also required by law.

City officials said they will appeal the ruling. They said the judge misinterpreted the law and if his ruling stands, it would remove flexibility for city and county councils to take up matters that come up suddenly.