On May 26, 2009, House File 243, an act providing for gender balance on local boards, commissions, committees, and councils, became law. This Act is applicable to appointments to boards, commissions, committees, and councils of a political subdivision of the state made on and after January 1, 2012. Examples of boards, commissions, committees or councils which must be gender balanced include airport boards, civil service commissions, library boards, planning and zoning commissions, utility boards, zoning boards of adjustment and boards of review. (These are examples and not a complete list.)
As of January 1 of this year all appointed city and county boards, commissions, committees, and councils created by state law must be gender balanced. Gender balance means for entities with an even number of members that there must be an equal number of males and females. For entities with an odd number of members there may only be one more male than females, or one more female than males.
Boards, commissions, committees or councils not presently gender balanced may remain so until the terms of those presently sitting expire. As each term expires, the new appointment must be made so as to advance or achieve gender balance. (Thus, a board of three all of whom are male remain in office until the next term expires, then the present member may not be re-appointed but must be replaced by a female. For a similarly situated five member board the appointments made when the next two terms expire must be female).
There is an exception in the Code where gender balance is not required if after "a good faith effort" a "qualified" person of the needed gender cannot be found after 3 months of effort. In order to use this exception, the local government will have to show it used a fair and unbiased method to select the best qualified applicants. This is a very narrow exception and should only be used when its necessity can be very clearly established.
Ahlers & Cooney's Public Finance& Law Practice Group
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