As used in and for determining the applicability of this chapter, the following words shall have the following meanings solely for the purposes of this chapter:
(1) DELIBERATION. An exchange of information or ideas among a quorum of members of a governmental body intended to arrive at or influence a decision as to how the members of the governmental body should vote on a specific matter that, at the time of the exchange, the participating members expect to come before the body immediately following the discussion or at a later time.
(2) EXECUTIVE SESSION. That portion of a meeting of a governmental body from which the public is excluded for one or more of the reasons prescribed in Section 36-25A-7(a).
(3) GENERAL REPUTATION AND CHARACTER. Characteristics or actions of a person directly involving good or bad ethical conduct, moral turpitude, or suspected criminal activity, not including job performance.
(4) GOVERNMENTAL BODY. All boards, bodies, and commissions of the executive and legislative departments of the state or its political subdivisions or municipalities which expend or appropriate public funds; all multimember governing bodies of departments, agencies, institutions, and instrumentalities of the executive and legislative departments of the state or its political subdivisions or municipalities, including, without limitation, all corporations and other instrumentalities whose governing boards are comprised of a majority of members who are appointed or elected by the state or its political subdivisions, counties or municipalities; and all quasi-judicial bodies of the executive and legislative departments of the state and all standing, special, or advisory committees or subcommittees of, or appointed by, the body. The term "governmental body" does not include any of the following:
a. Legislative party caucuses or coalitions.
b. Alabama appellate or trial courts, except as required by the constitution of this state or any body governed by rules of the Alabama Supreme Court.
c. Voluntary membership associations comprised of public employees, counties, municipalities, or their instrumentalities which have not been delegated any legislative or executive functions by the Legislature or Governor.
(5) JOB PERFORMANCE. The observed conduct or actions of a public employee or public official while on the job in furtherance of his or her assigned duties. Job performance includes whether a person is meeting, exceeding, or failing to meet job requirements or whether formal employment actions should be taken by the governmental body. Job performance does not include the general reputation and character of the person being discussed.
(6) MEETING. a. Subject to the limitations herein, the term meeting shall only apply to the following:
1. The prearranged gathering of a quorum of a governmental body or a quorum of a committee or subcommittee of a governmental body at a time and place which is set by law or operation of law.
2. The prearranged gathering of a quorum of a governmental body or a quorum of a committee or subcommittee of a governmental body during which the body, committee, or subcommittee of the governmental body is authorized, either by law or otherwise, to exercise the powers which it possesses or approve the expenditure of public funds.
3. The gathering, whether or not it was prearranged, of a quorum of a governmental body or a quorum of a committee or a subcommittee of a governmental body during which the members of the governmental body deliberate specific matters that, at the time of the exchange, the participating members expect to come before the body, committee, or subcommittee at a later date.
b. The term "meeting" shall not include:
1. Occasions when a quorum of a governmental body, committee, or subcommittee attends social gatherings, conventions, conferences, training programs, press conferences, media events, or otherwise gathers so long as the governmental body does not deliberate specific matters that, at the time of the exchange, the participating members expect to come before the governmental body at a later date.
2. Occasions when a quorum of a governmental body gathers, in person or by electronic communication, with state or federal officials for the purpose of reporting or obtaining information or seeking support for issues of importance to the governmental body.
(7) OPEN OR PUBLIC PORTION OF A MEETING. The open or public portion of a meeting is that portion which has not been closed for executive session in accordance with this chapter, for which prior notice was given in compliance with this chapter, and which is conducted so that constituents of the governmental body, members of the media, persons interested in the activities of the governmental body, and citizens of this state could, if they desired, attend and observe.
(8) PROFESSIONAL COMPETENCE. The ability of an individual to practice a profession within the profession's acceptable standards of care and responsibility. A profession is a vocation requiring certification by the State of Alabama or passage of a state licensing examination that may only be granted to or taken by persons who have completed at least three years of college-level education and obtained at least a college-level degree.
(9) PUBLIC EMPLOYEE. Any person employed at the state, county, or municipal levels of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations and authorities, who is paid in whole or in part from state, county, or municipal funds. A public employee does not include a person employed on a part-time basis whose employment is limited to providing professional services other than lobbying, the compensation for which constitutes less than 50 percent of the part-time employee's income.
(10) PUBLIC FUNDS. Taxes or fees charged or collected by a governmental body or from the sale of public property including, but not limited to, matching funds from the federal government or income derived from the investment of taxes or fees.
(11) PUBLIC OFFICIAL. Any person elected to public office, whether or not that person has taken office, by the vote of the people at state, county, or municipal levels of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations, and any person appointed to a position at the state, county, or municipal levels of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations.
(12) QUORUM. Unless otherwise provided by law, a quorum is a majority of the voting members of a governmental body. Except where a governmental body is prohibited from holding a non-emergency meeting as defined in subdivision (6)a.1. between the date of election of members and the date such members take office, any person elected to serve on a governmental body shall be counted in the determination of whether a quorum of that governmental body is present, except for any meeting as defined in subdivisions (6)a.1. and 2., beginning on the date of certification of the results of the general election. In the case of appointment to a governmental body, any person shall be counted in the determination of whether a quorum of that governmental body is present, except for any meeting as defined in subdivisions (6)a.1. and 2., from the date that the appointment is made or issued whether or not the appointment is effective on that date.