Closed Meetings Under Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Law

State law in Wisconsin requires 24 hours notice of any public meeting, and even in an emergency, a public board or commission must give 2 hours notice before closing a meeting.

There are 12 reasons a governmental body can close a meeting, AND, the motion to close must be made in public and voted on in public and it takes a majority vote to close the session. If the vote passes, the presiding officer of the meeting must announce to everyone present at the meeting the nature of the business they plan to discuss behind closed doors, and must cite the specific exemption they’re claiming, to go into closed session.

Additionally, if a meeting is held in closed session and it turns out that it should not have been, all the items discussed at that meeting must be brought up again at an open meeting in the future.

Here are the 12 specific reasons the law allows a governmental body to close a meeting:

  1. To deliberate after any quasi- judicial trial or hearing.
  2. To consider specific personnel matters.
  3. To consider specific applications of probation or parole.
  4. To consider a strategy for crime detection or prevention.
  5. To deliberate or negotiate the purchase of public property, the investing of public money, or to conduct specific public business when competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed section.
  6. To deliberate unemployment insurance or worker’s compensation.
  7. To deliberate the location of a burial site if discussing it in public would likely result in disturbance of the burial site.
  8. To consider financial, medical, social, or personal histories or disciplinary data of specific persons, which if discussed in public would be likely to have a substantial adverse effect upon the reputation of any such person.
  9. To confer with legal counsel for a governmental body that is rendering oral or written advice concerning strategy with respect to litigation.
  10.  To consider requests for confidential written advice from the Government Accountability Board, which used to be called the State Ethics Board.
  11.  To consider some matters related to acts by businesses, which if discussed in public could adversely affect the business, its employees, or former employees, under the State Economic Adjustment Program.
  12.  To consider financial information relating to the support of certain nonprofit corporations.