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Published by William F. Zachmann

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Published by: William F. Zachmann on Dec 07, 2012
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Open Meeting Law Guide
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
O
ffice
 
Of
ttOrney 
G
enerAl 
 M
 ArthA 
c
OAkley 
f
ebruAry 
10, 2012
 
 
Dear Massachusetts Residents:On July 1, 2010,
the Attorney General’s Office assumed responsibility for theenforcement of the Open Meeting Law (OML) from the state’s District Attorneys.
Webelieve that transferring all enforcement to one central statewide office will allow forgreater consistency and will ensure that local officials have access to the informationthey need to comply with the law.Our office is committed to ensuring that the changes to the Open Meeting Law willprovide for greater transparency and clarity
 –
both of which are hallmarks of goodgovernment. We are focused on providing educational materials, outreach and trainingsessions to ensure that all members of the public understand the law.Whether you are a town clerk or town manager, a member of a public body, or aninvolved resident, I want to thank you for taking the time to understand the OpenMeeting Law. We strive to be a resource to you, and encourage you to contact theDivision of Open Government at (617) 963-2540 or visit our website atwww.mass.gov/ago/openmeeting for more information.Cordially,Martha CoakleyMassachusetts Attorney General
 
 
Open Meeting Law Guide Page 1
Version 2.10.12
 
Attorney General’s Open Meeting Law Guide
 
Overview
Purpose of the Law
The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to ensure transparency in the deliberationson which public policy is based. Because the democratic process depends on the publichaving knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action, the OpenMeeting Law requires, with some exceptions, that meetings of public bodies be open to
the public. It also seeks to balance the public’s interest in witnessing the deliberationsof public officials with the government’s need to manage its operations efficient
ly.
AGO Authority
The Open Meeting Law was revised as part of the 2009 Ethics Reform Bill, and nowcentralizes responsibility for state
wide enforcement of the law in the Attorney General’s
Office (AGO). G.L. c. 30A, § 19 (a). To help public bodies understand and comply withthe revised law, the Attorney General has created the Division of Open Government.The Division of Open Government provides training, responds to inquiries, investigatescomplaints, and when necessary, makes findings and takes remedial action to addressviolations of the law. The purpose of this Guide is to inform elected and appointedmembers of public bodies, as well as the interested public, of the basic requirements of the law.
Certification
Within two weeks of 
a member’
s election or appointment or the taking of the oathof office, whichever occurs later, all members of public bodies must complete theattached Certificate of Receipt of Open Meeting Law Materials certifying that they havereceived these materials, and that they understand the requirements of the OpenMeeting Law and the consequences for violating it. The certification must be retainedwhere the body maintains its official records. All public body members shouldfamiliarize themselves with the Open Meeting Law, the
Attorney General’s regulations,
and this Guide.Where no term of office for a member of a public body is specified, the membermust complete the Certificate of Receipt on a biannual basis by January 14 of a calendaryear, beginning on January
14, 2011. Where a member’s term of office began prior to
July 1, 2010, and will not expire until after July 1, 2011, the member should havecompleted the Certificate of Receipt by January 14, 2011. In the event a Certificate hasnot yet been completed by a member of a public body, the member should complete

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