Open Meeting Law

The purpose of the Open Meeting Law is to eliminate much of the secrecy surrounding the deliberations and decisions on which public policy is based.It accomplishes this purpose by requiring open discussion of governmental action at public meetings.The requirements of the Open Meeting Law grow out of the idea that the democratic process depends on the public having knowledge about the considerations underlying governmental action taken by their representatives.The overriding intent of the Open Meeting Law is therefore to foster and indeed require open discussion of governmental action at public meetings.Yet the Law does recognize that public officials might be “unduly hampered” if all discussion by public officials were required to be open.As a result, it specifies certain types of issues that may be discussed and decided in a closed session.These exceptions are limited in number and scope.

The Law applies to those meetings of governmental bodies in which a quorum of the body convenes to deliberate on any public business or policy within its jurisdiction.The terms meeting, governmental body, deliberation, and quorum are specifically defined in the law – M.G.L. Chapter 39, §23A.