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Open Meeting Law
PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

TITLE III. LAWS RELATING TO STATE OFFICERS

CHAPTER 30A. STATE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURE

Chapter 30A: Section 11A. Definitions
Section 11A. The following terms as used in section eleven A1/2 shall have the following meanings:
“Deliberation”, a verbal exchange between a quorum of members of a governmental body attempting to arrive at a decision on any public business within its jurisdiction.
“Emergency”, a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.
“Executive session”, any meeting or part of a meeting of a governmental body which is closed to certain persons for deliberation on certain matters.
“Governmental body”, a state board, committee, special committee, subcommittee or commission, however created or constituted within the executive or legislative branch of the commonwealth or the governing board or body of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose in the commonwealth or any part thereof, but shall not include the general court or the committees or recess commissions thereof, or bodies of the judicial branch, or any meeting of a quasi-judicial board or commission held for the sole purpose of making a decision required in an adjudicatory proceeding brought before it, nor shall it include the board of bank incorporation or the Policyholders Protective Board.
“Made public”, when the records of an executive session have been approved by the members of the respective governmental body attending such session for release to the public and notice of such approval has been entered in the records of such body.
“Meeting”, any corporal convening and deliberation of a governmental body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision at which any public policy matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power is discussed or considered; but shall not include any on-site inspection of any project or program.
“Quorum”, a simple majority of a governmental body unless otherwise defined by constitution, charter, rule or law applicable to such governing body.



Chapter 30A: Section 11A1/2. Open meetings of governmental bodies

Section 11A1/2. All meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and any person shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided by this section.
No quorum of a governmental body shall meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.
No executive session shall be held until the governmental body has first convened in an open session for which notice has been given, a majority of the members of the governmental body have voted to go into executive session and the vote of each member is recorded on a roll call vote and entered into the minutes, the presiding officer has cited the purpose for an executive session, and the presiding officer has stated before the executive session if the governmental body will reconvene after the executive session.
Nothing except the limitations contained in this section shall be construed to prevent the governmental body from holding an executive session after an open meeting has been convened and after a recorded vote has been taken to hold an executive session. Executive sessions may be held only for the following purposes:
(1) To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health rather than the professional competence of an individual, provided that the individual to be discussed in such executive session has been notified in writing by the governmental body, at least forty-eight hours prior to the proposed executive session. Notification may be waived upon agreement of the parties.
A governmental body shall hold an open meeting if the individual involved requests that the meeting be open. If an executive session is held, such individual shall have the following rights:
(a) to be present at such executive session during discussions or considerations which involve that individual.
(b) to have counsel or a representative of his own choosing present and attending for the purpose of advising said individual and not for the purpose of active participation in said executive session.
(c) to speak in his own behalf.
(2) To consider the discipline or dismissal of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual, provided that the individual involved in such executive session has been notified in writing by the governmental body at least forty-eight hours prior to the proposed executive session. Notification may be waived upon agreement of the parties. A governmental body shall hold an open meeting if the individual involved requests that the meeting be open. If an executive session is held, such individual shall have the following rights:
(a) to be present at such executive session during discussions or considerations which involve that individual.
(b) to have counsel or a representative of his own choosing present and attending for the purpose of advising said individual and not for the purpose of active participation in said executive session.
(c) to speak in his own behalf.
(3) To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the governmental body, and to conduct collective bargaining sessions.
(4) To discuss the deployment of security personnel or devices.
(5) To investigate charges of criminal misconduct or to discuss the filing of criminal complaints.
(6) To consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property, if such discussions may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the governmental body and a person, firm or corporation.
(7) To comply with the provisions of any general or special law or federal grant-in-aid requirements.
This section shall not apply to any chance meeting or social meeting at which matters relating to official business are discussed so long as no final agreement is reached. No chance meeting or social meeting shall be used in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of this section to discuss or act upon a matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
Except in an emergency, a notice of every meeting of a governmental body subject to this section shall be filed with the secretary of state, and a copy thereof posted in the office of the executive office for administration and finance at least forty-eight hours, including Saturdays but not Sundays and legal holidays, prior to the time of such meeting. The notice shall be printed in easily readable type and shall include the date, time and place of such meeting. Such filing and posting shall be the responsibility of the officer calling such meetings.
A governmental body shall maintain accurate records of its meetings, setting forth the date, time, place, members present or absent and action taken at each meeting, including executive sessions. The records of each meeting shall become a public record and be available to the public; provided, however, that the records of any executive session may remain secret as long as publication may defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session, but no longer. All votes taken in executive sessions shall be recorded roll call votes and shall become a part of the record of said executive sessions. No votes taken in open session shall be by secret ballot.
A meeting of a governmental body may be recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic reproduction except when a meeting is held in executive session; provided, that in such recording there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting.
Upon qualification for office following an appointment or election to a governmental body, a member shall be furnished by the state secretary with a copy of this section. Each member shall sign a written acknowledgment that he has been provided with such a copy.
The attorney general shall enforce the provisions of this section.
Upon proof of failure by any governmental body or by any member or officer thereof to carry out any of the provisions of this section, any justice of the supreme judicial court or any justice of the superior court sitting in the county in which the governmental body customarily meets or in the absence of such sitting of court then any justice of the superior court sitting in Suffolk county shall issue an appropriate order requiring such governmental body or member or officer thereof to carry out such provision at future meetings. Any such order may be sought by complaint of three or more registered voters, by the attorney general, or by the district attorney for the district in which the governmental body is located. The order of notice on the complaint shall be heard no later than ten days after the filing thereof or on such day thereafter as the court shall fix, having regard to the speediest possible determination of the cause consistent with the rights of the parties; provided, however, that orders with respect to any of the matters referred to in this section may be issued at any time on or after the filing of the complaint without notice when such order is necessary to fulfill the purposes of this section. In the hearing of such complaint the burden shall be on the respondent to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the actions complained of in such complaint were in accordance with and authorized by this section, by section nine G of chapter thirty-four or by section twenty-three B of chapter thirty-nine. All processes may be issued from the clerk’s office in the county in which the action is brought and, except as aforesaid, shall be returnable as the court orders.
Such order may invalidate any action taken at any meeting at which any provision of this section has been violated, provided that such complaint is filed within twenty-one days of the date when such action is made public.
Any such order may also, when appropriate, require the records of any such meeting to be made public, unless it shall have been determined by such justice that the maintenance of secrecy with respect to such records is authorized. The remedy created hereby is not exclusive, but shall be in addition to every other available remedy.
The rights of an individual set forth in this section relative to his appearance before a meeting in an executive or open session, are in addition to the rights that an individual may have from any other source, including, but not limited to rights under any laws or collective bargaining agreements, and the exercise or nonexercise of the individual rights under this section shall not be construed as a waiver of any rights of the individual.

Chapter 30A: Section 11B. Studies of state boards, commissions and authorities; notice to city or town affected
Section 11B. All state boards and commissions and the governing boards or bodies of all such authorities which conduct a study affecting or relating to the use of an area of a city or town shall notify the mayor or city manager, if any, of the city and the presiding officer of the city council, or the chairman of the board of selectmen of the town, of the study and shall invite their participation therein. No determination shall be made and no results of the study shall be released to the public until such notification has been given with a reasonable opportunity to participate in it.

Chapter 30A: Section 11C. Hearings in municipalities
Section 11C. Any agency which is required by law to conduct hearings, shall, if the subject matter of such hearing solely concerns a single municipality, hold such hearing or a substantial portion thereof in such municipality upon receipt of a written request from the mayor of a city, the board of selectmen of a town, or the council of a municipality having a manager-council form of government received by the agency not less than fourteen days before the scheduled date of the hearing. If the subject matter of such hearing solely concerns a particular geographic area of the commonwealth, the agency shall hold such hearing or a substantial portion thereof within such geographic area upon receipt of written requests from a majority of the mayors, boards of selectmen and councils of the cities and towns which constitute such geographic area received by the agency not less than fourteen days before the scheduled date of the hearing. The municipality in which the hearing is held shall provide a hearing room and other necessary facilities for such hearing. If no suitable place for holding such hearing is available in the municipality, the municipality may arrange for the holding of the hearing in another city or town that is reasonably convenient. This section shall not apply to hearings held as part of an adjudicatory proceeding, but this sentence shall not be construed to restrict an agency from holding an adjudicatory hearing in any appropriate location.



PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

TITLE VI. COUNTIES AND COUNTY OFFICERS

CHAPTER 34. COUNTIES AND COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

Chapter 34: Section 9. Meetings; frequency; location; special meetings
Section 9. The commissioners shall hold meetings at the following times and places for their respective counties:
At Barnstable, the second Tuesday of April and October. At Pittsfield, the first Tuesday of January, April, July and October. At Taunton, the fourth Tuesday of March and September.
At Edgartown, the Wednesday next after the third Monday of May and the Wednesday next after the second Monday of November.
At Ipswich, the second Tuesday of April; at Salem, the second Tuesday of July; at Newburyport, the second Tuesday of October; at Lawrence, the last Tuesday of August; and the fourth Tuesday of December, at Ipswich, Salem or Newburyport, as they shall order at the preceding meeting. At Greenfield, the first Tuesday of March and September and the second Tuesday of June and December. At Springfield, the second Tuesday of April, the first Tuesday of October and the fourth Tuesday of June and December. At Northampton, the first Tuesday of March, September and December and the Tuesday next after the second Monday of June. At Cambridge, twice yearly; at Lowell, twice yearly; at Framingham, twice yearly. At Dedham, the third Tuesday of April, the fourth Tuesday of June and September and the last Wednesday of December. At Plymouth, the first Tuesday of January, the third Tuesday of March and the first Tuesday of August. At Worcester, the fourth Tuesday of March, the third Tuesday of June, the second Tuesday of September and the fourth Tuesday of December.
They may by vote, specify the time and place, establish other regular meetings within their county, and may also hold special meetings therein at such times and places as may be necessary. They may adjourn any regular or special meeting to any place within the county, and persons required to appear at, or processes returnable to, any such meeting, shall appear at or be returnable to the adjourned meeting.







PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

TITLE VII. CITIES, TOWNS AND DISTRICTS

CHAPTER 39. MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT


TOWN MEETINGS


Chapter 39: Section 23A. Definitions
Section 23A. The following terms as used in sections twenty-three B and twenty-three C shall have the following meanings:—
“Deliberation”, a verbal exchange between a quorum of members of a governmental body attempting to arrive at a decision on any public business within its jurisdiction.
“Emergency”, a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances demanding immediate action.
“Executive session”, any meeting of a governmental body which is closed to certain persons for deliberation on certain matters.
“Governmental body”, every board, commission, committee or subcommittee of any district, city, region or town, however elected, appointed or otherwise constituted, and the governing board of a local housing, redevelopment or similar authority; provided, however, that this definition shall not include a town meeting.
“Made public”, when the records of an executive session have been approved by the members of the respective governmental body attending such session for release to the public and notice of such approval has been entered in the records of such body.
“Meeting”, any corporal convening and deliberation of a governmental body for which a quorum is required in order to make a decision at which any public business or public policy matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power is discussed or considered; but shall not include any on-site inspection of any project or program.
“Quorum”, a simple majority of a governmental body unless otherwise defined by constitution, charter, rule or law applicable to such governing body.



Chapter 39: Section 23B. Open meetings of governmental bodies
Section 23B. All meetings of a governmental body shall be open to the public and any person shall be permitted to attend any meeting except as otherwise provided by this section.
No quorum of a governmental body shall meet in private for the purpose of deciding on or deliberating toward a decision on any matter except as provided by this section.
No executive session shall be held until the governmental body has first convened in an open session for which notice has been given, a majority of the members have voted to go into executive session and the vote of each member is recorded on a roll call vote and entered into the minutes, the presiding officer has cited the purpose for an executive session, and the presiding officer has stated before the executive session if the governmental body will reconvene after the executive session.
Nothing except the limitation contained in this section shall be construed to prevent the governmental body from holding an executive session after an open meeting has been convened and a recorded vote has been taken to hold an executive session. Executive sessions may be held only for the following purposes:
(1) To discuss the reputation, character, physical condition or mental health rather than the professional competence of an individual, provided that the individual involved in such executive session has been notified in writing by the governmental body, at least forty-eight hours prior to the proposed executive session. Notification may be waived upon agreement of the parties. A governmental body shall hold an open meeting if the individual involved requests that the meeting be open. If an executive session is held, such individual shall have the following rights:
(a) to be present at such executive session during discussions or considerations which involve that individual.
(b) to have counsel or a representative of his own choosing present and attending for the purpose of advising said individual and not for the purpose of active participation in said executive session.
(c) to speak in his own behalf.
(2) To consider the discipline or dismissal of, or to hear complaints or charges brought against, a public officer, employee, staff member, or individual, provided that the individual involved in such executive session pursuant to this clause has been notified in writing by the governmental body at least forty-eight hours prior to the proposed executive session. Notification may be waived upon agreement of the parties. A governmental body shall hold an open meeting if the individual involved requests that the meeting be open. If an executive session is held, such individual shall have the following rights:
(a) to be present at such executive session during discussions or considerations which involve that individual.
(b) to have counsel or a representative of his own choosing present and attending for the purpose of advising said individual and not for the purpose of active participation.
(c) to speak in his own behalf.
(3) To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the governmental body, to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with nonunion personnel, to conduct collective bargaining sessions or contract negotiations with nonunion personnel.
(4) To discuss the deployment of security personnel or devices.
(5) To investigate charges of criminal misconduct or to discuss the filing of criminal complaints.
(6) To consider the purchase, exchange, lease or value of real property, if such discussions may have a detrimental effect on the negotiating position of the governmental body and a person, firm or corporation.
(7) To comply with the provisions of any general or special law or federal grant-in-aid requirements.
(8) To consider and interview applicants for employment by a preliminary screening committee or a subcommittee appointed by a governmental body if an open meeting will have a detrimental effect in obtaining qualified applicants; provided, however, that this clause shall not apply to any meeting, including meetings of a preliminary screening committee or a subcommittee appointed by a governmental body, to consider and interview applicants who have passed a prior preliminary screening.
(9) To meet or confer with a mediator, as defined in section twenty-three C of chapter two hundred and thirty-three, with respect to any litigation or decision on any public business within its jurisdiction involving another party, group or body, provided that: (a) any decision to participate in mediation shall be made in open meeting session and the parties, issues involved and purpose of the mediation shall be disclosed; and (b)no action shall be taken by any governmental body with respect to those issues which are the subject of the mediation without deliberation and approval for such action at an open meeting after such notice as may be required in this section.
This section shall not apply to any chance meeting, or a social meeting at which matters relating to official business are discussed so long as no final agreement is reached. No chance meeting or social meeting shall be used in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of this section to discuss or act upon a matter over which the governmental body has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power.
Except in an emergency, a notice of every meeting of any governmental body shall be filed with the clerk of the city or town in which the body acts, and the notice or a copy thereof shall, at least forty-eight hours, including Saturdays but not Sundays and legal holidays, prior to such meeting, be publicly posted in the office of such clerk or on the principal official bulletin board of such city or town. The secretary of a regional school district committee shall be considered to be its clerk and he shall file the notice of meetings of the committee with the clerk of each city or town within such district and each such clerk shall post the notice in his office or on the principal official bulletin board of the city or town and such secretary shall post such notice in his office or on the principal official bulletin board of the district. If the meeting shall be of a regional or district governmental body, the officer calling the meeting shall file the notice thereof with the clerk of each city and town within such region or district, and each such clerk shall post the notice in his office or on the principal official bulletin board of the city or town. The notice shall be printed in easily readable type and shall contain the date, time and place of such meeting. Such filing and posting shall be the responsibility of the officer calling such meeting.
A governmental body shall maintain accurate records of its meetings, setting forth the date, time, place, members present or absent and action taken at each meeting, including executive sessions. The records of each meeting shall become a public record and be available to the public; provided, however, that the records of any executive session may remain secret as long as publication may defeat the lawful purposes of the executive session, but no longer. All votes taken in executive sessions shall be recorded roll call votes and shall become a part of the record of said executive sessions. No votes taken in open session shall be by secret ballot.
A meeting of a governmental body may be recorded by any person in attendance by means of a tape recorder or any other means of sonic reproduction or by means of videotape equipment fixed in one or more designated locations determined by the governmental body except when a meeting is held in executive session; provided, that in such recording there is no active interference with the conduct of the meeting.
Upon qualification for office following an appointment or election to a governmental body, as defined in this section, the member shall be furnished by the city or town clerk with a copy of this section. Each such member shall sign a written acknowledgement that he has been provided with such a copy.
The district attorney of the county in which the violation occurred shall enforce the provisions of this section.
Upon proof of failure by any governmental body or by any member or officer thereof to carry out any of the provisions for public notice or meetings, for holding open meetings, or for maintaining public records thereof, any justice of the supreme judicial court or the superior court sitting within and for the county in which such governmental body acts shall issue an appropriate order requiring such governmental body or member or officer thereof to carry out such provisions at future meetings. Such order may be sought by complaint of three or more registered voters, by the attorney general, or by the district attorney of the county in which the city or town is located. The order of notice on the complaint shall be returnable no later than ten days after the filing thereof and the complaint shall be heard and determined on the return day or on such day thereafter as the court shall fix, having regard to the speediest possible determination of the cause consistent with the rights of the parties; provided, however, that orders with respect to any of the matters referred to in this section may be issued at any time on or after the filing of the complaint without notice when such order is necessary to fulfill the purposes of this section. In the hearing of such complaints the burden shall be on the respondent to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the action complained of in such complaint was in accordance with and authorized by section eleven A 1/2 of chapter thirty A, by section nine G of chapter thirty-four or by this section. All processes may be issued from the clerk’s office in the county in which the action is brought and, except as aforesaid, shall be returnable as the court orders.
Such order may invalidate any action taken at any meeting at which any provision of this section has been violated, provided that such complaint is filed within twenty-one days of the date when such action is made public.
Any such order may also, when appropriate, require the records of any such meeting to be made public, unless it shall have been determined by such justice that the maintenance of secrecy with respect to such records is authorized. The remedy created hereby is not exclusive, but shall be in addition to every other available remedy. Such order may also include reinstatement without loss of compensation, seniority, tenure or other benefits for any employee discharged at a meeting or hearing held in violation of the provisions of this section.
Such order may also include a civil fine against the governmental body in an amount no greater than one thousand dollars for each meeting held in violation of this section.
The rights of an individual set forth in this section relative to his appearance before a meeting in an executive or open session, are in addition to the rights that an individual may have from any other source, including, but not limited to, rights under any laws or collective bargaining agreements, and the exercise or nonexercise of the individual rights under this section shall not be construed as a waiver of any rights of the individual.

Chapter 39: Section 23C. Regulation of participation by public in open meetings
Section 23C. No person shall address a public meeting of a governmental body without permission of the presiding officer at such meeting, and all persons shall, at the request of such presiding officer, be silent. If, after warning from the presiding officer, a person persists in disorderly behavior, said officer may order him to withdraw from the meeting, and, if he does not withdraw, may order a constable or any other person to remove him and confine him in some convenient place until the meeting is adjourned.

Chapter 39: Section 23D. Adjudicatory hearings; attendance by municipal board, committee and commission members; voting disqualification
Section 23D. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, upon municipal acceptance of this section for 1 or more types of adjudicatory hearings, a member of any municipal board, committee or commission when holding an adjudicatory hearing shall not be disqualified from voting in the matter solely due to that member’s absence from no more than a single session of the hearing at which testimony or other evidence is received. Before any such vote, the member shall certify in writing that he has examined all evidence received at the missed session, which evidence shall include an audio or video recording of the missed session or a transcript thereof. The written certification shall be part of the record of the hearing. Nothing in this section shall change, replace, negate or otherwise supersede applicable quorum requirements.
(b) By ordinance or by-law, a city or town may adopt minimum additional requirements for attendance at scheduled board, committee, and commission hearings under this section.






 
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