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New Massachusetts Open Meeting Law Requirements Effective July 1, 2010

Type:  General  

New Massachusetts Open Meeting Law Requirements Effective July 1, 2010. 


Effective July 1, 2010, authority for the enforcement of the Open Meeting Law has been placed with the Attorney General's Office. Contact your own Town Hall or City Hall for more detailed information about the implementation of the Open Meeting Law in your own community.  


Link to the Massachusettts Attorney General's page about the new Open Meeting Law.


These regulations are adopted as emergency regulations. The statute authorizing the Attorney General to promulgate regulations took effect on July 1, 2010. These regulations took effect on July 1, 2010, the date the Attorney General becomes responsible for enforcement of the Open Meeting Law. Because the Attorney General was not authorized to promulgate regulations to carry out enforcement of the Open Meeting Law prior to July 1, 2010, there was no time for a public comment period prior to promulgating the regulations. The regulations are necessary for the Attorney General to enforce the Open Meeting Law and provide guidance to public bodies subject to the Law. The Attorney General will follow the 90 day procedure for emergency regulations, including a public comment period and a public hearing, before revising the regulations and promulgating them as permanent regulations.


Brief summary of some significant changes:  
The content of the notice of a 'meeting' must now include more specific listing of matters reasonably anticipated for discussion at the meeting.  
Notices still must be posted not less than 48 hours prior to meeting, however, Saturdays can no longer be counted toward satisfying the 48 hour requirement. 
Also of significance, preliminary regulations being promulgated by the Attorney General provide:  "The municipal clerk, or other such person designated by the municipality, shall post notice of the meeting in a manner conspicuously visible to the public at all hours in or on the municipal building where the clerk's office is located....If such notice is not visible to the public during hours when the clerk's office is closed, such notice shall also be made available through an alternative method prescribed or approved by the Attorney General under 940 CMR 29.04.  A description of such alternative method, sufficient to allow members of the public to obtain notice through such method, shall be posted in a manner conspicuously visible to the public at all hours on or adjacent to the main and handicapped accessible entrances to the municipal building in which the clerk's office is located."   Multiple supplemental notice methods are set forth in the Attorney General's rulemaking.  



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