Notwithstanding the provision of any general or special law to the contrary, there is hereby established a mental retardation advisory council consisting of 15 persons to be appointed by the secretary of health and human services, with the approval of the governor, five of whom shall be citizens who are members of the department's mental retardation citizens' advisory committees across the state, and the remaining ten, at least five shall be appointed to represent one of the following professions and groups: state level medical, psychological, nursing, educational, social work, occupational therapy, bar associations, state level association for mental retardation, industrial and labor groups and the clergy; provided, however, that not fewer than two of the members shall be individuals eligible for services by the department. Upon the expiration of the term of office of any member, his successor shall be appointed for a term of three years. No member shall be appointed to serve more than two consecutive three-year terms. The council shall elect a chairman annually. The council shall serve without compensation, but each member shall be reimbursed by the commonwealth for all expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of his official duties.

Said advisory council shall have the following duties:

(a) to advise the commissioner on policy, program development and priorities of need in the commonwealth for comprehensive programs in mental retardation;
(b) to participate with the department in holding a regular series of public hearings throughout the commonwealth to obtain the views of the citizens concerning the programs of the department and the needs of the people in mental retardation services;
(c) to review the annual plans and the proposed annual budget of the department, and to make recommendations to the commissioner in regard thereto; and
(d) to hold at least three meetings per year and to convene special meetings at the call of the chairman of the council, a majority of the council, or the commissioner.

This information is provided by the Department of Developmental Services.