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Attorney General’s Office Publishes Guidance on Complying with Open Meeting Laws During COVID-19 Emergency

March 20, 2020

Contact: Charity Clark, Chief of Staff, (802) 828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that his office has published the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Guidance on the Vermont Open Meeting Law, Physical Distancing and COVID-19. The Attorney General’s Office is charged by statute with enforcement of the Vermont Open Meeting Law (1 V.S.A.§§ 310-314).  The key take-aways from the Guidance include:

  • Electronic participation in a meeting is allowed.
  • A physical location where members of the public may appear is required. At least one member of the board or commission, a designee, or a staff member must be physically present.
  • It is ok to limit attendance at a physical location, in certain circumstances, so long as there is a means of participating electronically.
  • While notice and posting requirements are waived for emergencies, notice should be provided as soon as possible.

“With technology, we can continue Vermont’s tradition of transparency,” said Attorney General Donovan. “Even with the need to practice social distancing, I want Vermonters to know that our boards and commissions can continue to do their important work.”

The Vermont Senate Government Operations Committee is considering a bill that would provide more flexibility to boards and commissions for compliance with the Vermont Open Meeting Law during the COVID-19 emergency. Should the status of the law change, the Guidance will be updated.

A copy of the Guidance can be found here.