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 Brian Falk


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June 26, 2017
New Open Meeting Law Regulations Available for Comment
The Attorney General recently released proposed amendments to the Open Meeting Law regulations.  Public comment on the proposed regulations will be accepted through August 3, 2017, which is also the date of a public hearing on the subject.
The new regulations would clarify a few gray areas in the OML and revise certain procedures regarding meeting notices and OML complaints.  Highlights of the proposed regulations include:  
  • Mediation for Frequent Complainants: Public bodies may request mediation with a complainant who has filed five or more OML complaints with the same body or municipality within the previous 12 months. If the individual declines mediation, the AG may decline to review the complaint.

  • Filing Complaints With the Chair Only: OML complaints are no longer filed in duplicate with the municipal clerk.

  • No Hearings Before Nullification or Reinstatement Orders: A hearing before an administrative law judge is no longer required prior to an order from the AG nullifying votes or reinstating employees. Aside from $1,000 fines for intentional violations (which still require a hearing), orders of nullification and reinstatement are the strictest penalties that may be imposed by the AG upon finding a violation of the OML. 
  • Website as the Sole Alternative Notice Location: Upon a decision by chief executive of the municipality (or majority vote of a regional or district body), the municipal website may be used as the official location to post meeting notices. This eliminates several rarely-used alternative notice locations (tv channel, public computer monitor, etc.) In the event of a website outage during the 48-hour notice period, the municipality has four hours to restore service; otherwise, meetings must be reposted.

  • Amended Notices: Notices that are amended with new information within 48 hours before a meeting must show the date and time of the amendment.

  • Simpler Remote Participation Standard: A chair may allow a member to join a meeting by remote participation upon finding that physical attendance is "unreasonably difficult." Under the current regulations, a chair may allow remote participation due to illness, disability, emergency, military service, or geographic distance.
  • Timely Approval of Minutes: A public body may satisfy the requirement that meeting minutes must be approved in a "timely manner" by approving minutes within its next three regular meetings.
We will provide additional client alerts on this topic upon the promulgation of final amended regulations.  If you have any questions, please contact Brian Falk.

Worcester Office
Mercantile Center
100 Front Street
Worcester, MA  01608
t 508.791.8500
f 508.791.8502

Westborough Office
1800 West Park Drive, Suite 400
Westborough, MA  01581
t 508.898.1501
f 508.898.1502

Boston Office
175 Federal Street,
Suite 1220
Boston, MA  02110
t 617.261.2417
f 617.261.2418
Mirick O'Connell is a full-service law firm with offices in Worcester, Westborough and Boston, Massachusetts.  The Firm's principal practice groups include Business;
Construction Law; Creditors' Rights, Bankruptcy and Reorganization; Elder Law; Family Law and Divorce; Health Law; Intellectual Property; Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits; Land Use and Environmental Law; Litigation; Personal Injury; Public and Municipal Law; and Trusts and Estates.
This client alert is intended to inform you of developments in the law and to provide information of general interest.  It is not intended to constitute legal advice regarding a client's specific legal issues and should not be relied upon as such.  This client alert may be considered advertising under the rules of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.