The legislation is based on a package of bills proposed by the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, of which I am executive director.
The reform legislation has five main initiatives:
- It would strengthen the language of the open meeting law to include current communication technology. Real-time electronic communication between government bodies would be subject to the same rules as meetings held in person.
- It would create an Open Meeting Law Board to oversee complaints and violations of the open meeting law and oversee a new Office of Government Accountability, housed in the Office of the Attorney General, to provide increased resources to investigating violations.
- For the first time in this state, it would impose civil fines on individual members of boards who violate the law and allow citizens to recover attorneys' fees in actions to enforce the law.
- Boards subject to the open meeting law would be required to post meeting agendas as part of required meeting notices.
- It would close some exceptions to the current law which allow for closed executive sessions.