GOV. BAKER ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER SUSPENDING PARTS OF OPEN MEETING LAW
Temporary relief is intended to enable local decision-making during COVID-19 emergency
March 13, 2020
Dear Osler Peterson,
Last night, Gov. Baker issued an Executive Order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law (OML). The Order is responsive to many of the concerns that municipal officials have raised over the past several days as communities respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Following the advice of public health professionals to reduce the spread of the virus, cities and towns are considering restricting access to many public buildings, seeking to hold meetings and hearings remotely, placing caps on the size of public meetings and events, and taking other actions to protect the public and those most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. However, the current OML statutes and regulations make it virtually impossible to take all of these steps and conduct necessary governmental business at the same time. The Governor’s Executive Order provides municipalities and state agencies with an important measure of relief from the OML during the public health emergency.
You may wish to consult with your legal counsel to see how this action could provide you with relief or flexibility as you move forward with local actions under state law and local charter provisions to protect the public and your workforce during this unprecedented emergency. The MMA has been in close contact with the Governor’s office regarding Open Meeting Law issues (and many others), and we appreciate that the Administration is moving forward
If you have comments or opinions regarding the efficacy/helpfulness of the executive order, please share this with our legislative team – Legislative Director John Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org and Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin at email@example.com.
Click Here for the Executive Order
Click Here for the “Coronavirus News and Resources for Local Government Leaders” page on MMA’s website