Remote Open Meeting Bill Remains Pending in Massachusetts Legislature

The Massachusetts state of emergency will lift at 12:01 am on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.  This will also render the current executive order permitting remote open meetings, “Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, § 20”, ineffective and void.

On May 25, 2021, Governor Baker filed “An Act to Temporarily Extend Certain Measures Adopted in the State of Emergency” which would extend the remote open meeting measures through September 1, 2021.  While the Senate has approved the legislation, it currently remains in the House for approval, and their next session is scheduled on Monday, June 14th.  Accordingly, the House will not be taking any action on this today (June 11th), and may not through next week (June 14th – June 18th).

Public bodies with open meetings scheduled for Tuesday, June 15th and days going forward should be prepared for potential in person meetings should the House fail to take immediate action on this bill.  In so preparing, a public body should determine whether it has adopted a remote participation policy – if so, only a quorum of the public body need be physically present at the meeting location.  We recommend that a public body assess its technology needs in conducting a meeting in this capacity.  If a public body does not have such a policy, it should be prepared for all public body members to be physically present at the meeting location.  In all cases, a public body still needs to enable members of the public with visual and audio access to the meeting.

Our office is continuing to monitor the status of this legislation and will provide timely updates as they become available.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this update, or any other questions regarding the open meeting law, please contact us.

 This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.