Friday, September 10, 2010

Open Meeting Commission Holds First Meeting

Today was the first meeting of the new Open Meeting Law Advisory Commission, on which I sit as the designee of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Assocation. The other members are:
Sen. Joyce was not able to attend but sent his chief of staff. All the other members were there, as were the staff lawyers from the AG's open governmetn division.

Jonathan Sclarsic of the AG's office kept the official minutes of the meeting, but here is a quick overview of what happened:
  • Loretta Lillios was elected to serve as chair of the commission for the remainder of 2010.
  • Britte McBride, the director of the AG's open government division, gave a report on steps taken so far to implement the law. These include promulgation of interim regulations, publication of a new OML Guide, and presentations to a handful of groups, including the members of the legislature and their staffs. A significant portion of the work of the new office so far has been spent fielding questions from citizens and government officials about the new law, she said. 
  • McBride also presented a summary of comments the AG received during its series of public hearings on the emergency regulations.
  • The committee discussed how we saw our role. We agreed that we would study and discuss various aspects of the law and make recommendations both to the AG and to the legislature. Rep. Walsh indicated that he would work with the committee in filing legislation should we see the need.
McBride said that the AG plans to put out additional requests for comments on various aspects of the new law. The AG also anticipates issuing advisory opinions and perhaps posting an FAQ to provide guidance on key issues under the law.

Our next meeting will be Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. at the AG's offices at One Ashburton Place. One item we agreed to discuss then is whether the AG should allow public officials to participate in meetings remotely, by web conference or other means. (The AG has put out a request for comments on this question.)

Note that the AG posts all of these materials on her website at:

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