Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Open Meeting Law Takes Effect July 1

Thursday is launch day for the state's new open meeting law. So far, legislative efforts to delay its start have failed, even as local officials continue to grapple with its notice provisions.

Two stories from this week's news describe the 11th-hour scramble among local officials:
I sympathize with the plight of these local officials. But I don't believe the solution is to delay the law's effective date. The new law was enacted a full year ago. Its effective date was put off for a year precisely so that officials would have time to prepare. If a year wasn't enough time, a few extra months won't make much difference either.

One key to smoothing out the wrinkles in the new law is Attorney General Coakley's office. The AG takes over enforcement of the law as of July 1. The office has taken the position that it has no authority to act under the new law until that date. Once Thursday arrives, I suspect we'll see some quick action from the AG to put out interim regulations and offer answers to some of the questions that are vexing local officials.

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