Open Meeting Law
"The Open Meeting Law is a positive approach to enhance public access to the activity of government at all levels, and to discourage the miss-perception of secrecy surrounding the deliberations and decisions upon which public policy is based."
The new Open Meeting Law took effect on July 1, 2010. Updated regulations were issued by the Attorney General effective October 6, 2017.
- New requirements for all persons serving on "public bodies" to receive the Attorney General's version of Open Meeting Law, regulations, and educational materials; Town or City Clerk or designee shall maintain written certifications of receipt.
- Forty-eight (48) hour notice - still required, but now cannot count Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays. Example: Monday night meeting must be posted before Thursday night.
- Notices must (1) include a list of topics the chair reasonably anticipates will be discussed, i.e., agenda, and (2) be posted in or on a municipal building to be visible to the public at all hours.
- Emails are expressly 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 the next meeting is permitted.
- Attendance by a quorum at a location is not a "meeting" if not intended to conduct business and no deliberation occurs - for example, attending a conference, social event, or a meeting of another municipal board.
- Minutes must contain more detailed information; in addition to "date, place, time and matters discussed," shall include summaries of matters discussed, a list of documents used, and all decisions made/votes taken.
- Meeting minutes must be approved in a timely manner. Public bodies that approve meeting minutes within the next three meetings, or 30 days, whichever occurs latest, will have approved minutes in a timely manner.
- Documents and other exhibits, such as photographs, recordings, or maps, used by the body at an open or executive session shall, along with the minutes, be part of the official record of the session.
- Chairs are required to periodically review executive session minutes and determine if they should be released, or if the purpose of the executive session is still ongoing to keep minutes confidential.
- Attorney General will assume all interpretation and enforcement authority over Open Meeting Law, and District Attorneys no longer involved. Attorney General has broader enforcement authority.
- Citizens making complaints of OML violations must file written complaints with the governmental body first; the body submits a reply to the complainant and Attorney General's office.
For more information, contact the Town Clerk's office