HOME‎ > ‎eGovernment‎ > ‎Town Departments‎ > ‎Town Clerk‎ > ‎

Open Meeting Law

New Open Meeting Law
October 2010

The Open Meeting Law was revised as part of the 2009 Ethics Reform Bill, and will centralize responsibility for state-wide enforcement of the law in the Office of the Attorney General. The effective date is October, 2010.

The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberations and decisions on which public policy is based. The Open Meeting Law supports the principle that the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge of the considerations underlying governmental action. The Open Meeting Law requires, with some exceptions, that meetings of governmental bodies to be held in public. It also seeks to balance the public’s interest in witnessing the deliberations of public officials with the government’s need to manage its operations efficiently. As a result, the Open Meeting Law provides for particular circumstances under which a meeting may be held in executive or closed session.

All persons serving on “public bodies” must receive a copy of the Open Meeting Law:

Open Meeting Law G L c 30A §§ 18 -25 Effective  July  1, 2010
Attorney General ‘s Open Meeting Law Guide Effective October 1, 2010

PROCEDURES FOR TOWN BOARDS/COMMITTEES MEETING POSTINGS


Notice of Meeting Template
(Template also available as an online form)

MEETING ROOM RESERVATIONS may be made  in person or sent to meetingrooms@hopkintonma.gov.

There are major changes to the Open Meeting Law, listed below.

  1. The officer calling the meeting is responsible for complying with the posting requirement that every meeting must be posted at least 48 hours prior to such meeting, the posting must include an agenda, the 48 hours prior to the meeting does not include Saturdays, Sundays or holidays. Email requests for reserving rooms are done at: meetingrooms@hopkintonma.gov. Meeting posting procedures are in the instruction handout.
  2.  For example:
    Monday night meetings must be posted by 3:30 pm Thursday.
    Tuesday night meetings must be posted by 3:30 pm Friday (if Monday is a holiday, before Thursday).
    Wednesday night meetings must be posted by 3:30 pm Monday.
    Thursday night meetings must be posted by 3:30 pm Tuesday.
    Friday night meetings must be posted by 3:30 pm Wednesday.
     
  3. Meeting Notices must include the date, time and place of the meeting and the agenda (the list of topics that the chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed).
     
  4. Meeting Notices must be made following the Posting Meetings Procedures provided to the officer responsible for calling the meeting. Meeting notices will be posted on the Town web page.
     
  5. Emails are included in the definition of “deliberation” which is prohibited outside of open session; but distribution of agendas, scheduling information or reports to be discussed at future meetings is permitted.
     
  6. Attendance by a quorum at a location is not considered to be a “meeting” if members are not intending to conduct business and no deliberation occurs. For example:

    (1) Attendance at a conference, social event, or a meeting of another municipal board is not considered to be a meeting if there is no intention to conduct business or deliberation occurs.

    (2) A meeting of a quasi-judicial board solely to make a decision required in an adjudicatory proceeding is not a “meeting”.
     
  7. Meeting minutes must contain more detailed information than previously required.
    The following must be included in the minutes:
    1. Date, place, time and matters discussed.
    2. Summaries of discussions
    3. List of documents used
    4. Decisions made
    5. Actions taken
    6. Record of all votes (yeas, nays and abstentions).
    7. Documents and other exhibits, such as photographs, recordings, maps and presentations used by the body at the open or executive session shall be part of the official record of the session in addition to the minutes.

     
  8. Executive Minutes must be reviewed by the chair periodically to determine if they can be released, or if purpose for the executive session is still ongoing minutes are kept confidential.
     
  9. Attorney General will assume broad interpretation and enforcement authority over the Open Meeting Law. The District Attorney is no longer involved.
     
  10. Persons making complaints concerning Open Meeting Law violations must file written complaint with the Public Body first. The Public Body then submits a reply to the complainant and to The Attorney General’s Office.

Source: MGL c. 30A §18-25, Brian Riley, Esq., Kopelman and Paige, P.C., Rosemary Harvell, Sudbury Town Clerk, Kaari Tari, Westford Town Clerk