Section 19: Division of open government; open meeting law training; open meeting law advisory commission; annual report
Section 19. (a) There shall be in the department of the attorney general a division of open government under the direction of a director of open government. The attorney general shall designate an assistant attorney general as the director of the open government division. The director may appoint and remove, subject to the approval of the attorney general, such expert, clerical and other assistants as the work of the division may require. The division shall perform the duties imposed upon the attorney general by the open meeting law, which may include participating, appearing and intervening in any administrative and judicial proceedings pertaining to the enforcement of the open meeting law. For the purpose of such participation, appearance, intervention and training authorized by this chapter the attorney general may expend such funds as may be appropriated therefor.
(b) The attorney general shall create and distribute educational materials and provide training to public bodies in order to foster awareness and compliance with the open meeting law. Open meeting law training may include, but shall not be limited to, instruction in:
(1) the general background of the legal requirements for the open meeting law;
(2) applicability of sections 18 to 25, inclusive, to governmental bodies;
(3) the role of the attorney general in enforcing the open meeting law; and
(4) penalties and other consequences for failure to comply with this chapter.
(c) There shall be an open meeting law advisory commission. The commission shall consist of 5 members, 2 of whom shall be the chairmen of the joint committee on state administration and regulatory oversight; 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association or his designee; 1 of whom shall be the president of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association or his designee; and 1 of whom shall be the attorney general or his designee.
The commission shall review issues relative to the open meeting law and shall submit to the attorney general recommendations for changes to the regulations, trainings, and educational initiatives relative to the open meeting law as it deems necessary and appropriate.
(d) The attorney general shall, not later than January 31, file annually with the commission a report providing information on the enforcement of the open meeting law during the preceding calendar year. The report shall include, but not be limited to:
(1) the number of open meeting law complaints received by the attorney general;
(2) the number of hearings convened as the result of open meeting law complaints by the attorney general;
(3) a summary of the determinations of violations made by the attorney general;
(4) a summary of the orders issued as the result of the determination of an open meeting law violation by the attorney general;
(5) an accounting of the fines obtained by the attorney general as the result of open meeting law enforcement actions;
(6) the number of actions filed in superior court seeking relief from an order of the attorney general; and
(7) any additional information relevant to the administration and enforcement of the open meeting law that the attorney general deems appropriate.