AG Coakley's Office Announces New Open Meeting Law Regulations Effective Today
The revisions to the Open Meeting Law, passed by the Legislature as part of the Ethics Reform Act of 2009, authorize the Attorney General to issue regulations to interpret and enforce the OML. The regulations, which have been in effect since July 1, 2010, as emergency regulations, were finalized and updated following a public comment period that ended on August 18, 2010, which included public hearings in Boston, Worcester, Springfield and New Bedford. The final regulations, filed with the Secretary of State, incorporate several amendments based on comments submitted by stakeholders, including municipal clerks, members of public bodies and the general public. A copy of the final regulations can be found on the Attorney General's Website.
"The purpose of the new regulations is to promote uniform interpretation and ensure greater transparency and clarity of the Open Meeting Law," said AG Coakley. "These regulations are intended to reflect the practical approach our office has taken to implementing the new law by filling in procedural and substantive gaps and providing further guidance to the members of public bodies who must comply with the law, as well as members of the general public and the press. Going forward we will continue to work with these stakeholders to ensure that we reach the shared goal of good governance."
On July 1, 2010, the Attorney General's Office assumed responsibility for enforcement of the OML over local, regional, district, county and state public bodies. Prior to July 1, the state's District Attorneys enforced the law as it pertains to local, regional, district and county public bodies.
Significant changes to the regulations that go into effect on October 1 include: authorizing website-only posting for local, regional, district and county public bodies; clarifying the role of municipal clerks in the notice posting and complaint processes; providing explicit guidance to members of public bodies about certifying the receipt of educational materials as required by law; and clarifying the complaint process.
The issuance of these regulations was handled by Assistant Attorney General Britte McBride, Director of the Attorney General's Division of Open Government and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Sclarsic.