Meetings Of A Public Body Must Be Open To
- Public must be given notice of the meeting.
- Public must be allowed to attend the meeting and be heard.
- Minutes of the meeting must be taken.
Who Does The Open Meeting Law Apply To?
This open meeting law applies to all boards, councils and commissions of
the state and its political sub-divisions (i.e. municipalities), including subcommittees
of these bodies. This means the open meeting law governs meetings of selectboards,
planning commissions, boards of civil authority, recreation commissions, municipal public
library trustees, auditors, listers,etc. . .
When Does The Open Meeting Law Apply?
Whenever a quorum (a majority) of a public body meet to discuss the
business of the board or to take action, the open meeting law will apply. This means that
if a majority of a board find themselves together at a social function they must take care
not to discuss the business of the board!
How Does A Board Notice Its Meetings?
- A board schedules regular meetings by adopting a resolution setting
the time and place of the meeting. This information must be made available to the public.
- A board holding a special meeting must, at least 24 hours before the
meeting, publicly announce the time, place and purpose of the meeting by notifying the
board members and the local news media and any other media that has specifically requested
notification, and by posting notice of the meeting in or near the clerks office and
in two other public places in the municipality.
- An emergency meeting may be held in the event of a true emergency without
public announcement so long as some public notice is given as soon as possible before the
What Is The Publics Right To Be
At an open meeting the public must be given a reasonable opportunity to
comment on matters considered by the board, subject to reasonable rules set by the chair
of the board.
What Do Minutes Of The Board Need To
Minutes must at least include the names of all members of the public
body present at the meeting, and other active participants, and all motions, proposals,
and resolutions made, and their dispositions, and the results of any votes taken. Minutes
are public records, which must be available for public inspection within five days after
When Can A Board Meet In Private?
- A board may meet in private to deliberate in connection with a
quasi-judicial hearing. This is not an open meeting and does not have to be warned.
- A board may only go into executive session upon a majority vote of the
board (2/3 vote of a state board), on a motion made in open meeting, that indicates the
reason for going into executive session. The only permissible reasons for going into
executive session are set out in 1 V.S.A. § 313, and are explained in Executive Sessions.
- A board may invite into executive session its attorney, administrative
staff and persons who are subjects of the discussion or whose information is needed.
- No decision may be made in executive session. Decisions may be made in
deliberative session so long as there is a written decision that is public record.
What Rights Do The Media Have?
- Upon request, the agendas of regular or special meetings must be made
available to the news media prior to a meeting.
- News agencies that wish to be notified of special meetings must provide a
written request to the public body.
- Members of the news media have the right to attend meetings and to tape
or videotape meetings so long as it is not done in a manner that disrupts the meeting.
- The media has the right to know the reason a board is going into