Open Meeting Law

latest news

Open Meeting Law Changes Effective July 1, 2024: Act 133 (S.55) is a permanent amendment to Vermont’s Open Meeting Law, and took effect on July 1, 2024. | Learn more below »

CCRPC-Specific Open Meeting Law Summary: This summary is intended to outline Vermont’s Open Meeting Law, including the most recent changes. It includes an overview of how the OML applies to CCRPC, a step-by-step process of ensuring compliance, and a summary of the complaint process. | View the 2-page summary »

All “public bodies” in the State of Vermont are required to comply with Vermont’s open meeting laws. These laws generally provide Vermonters with reasonable access to understand the actions of the public bodies acting on their behalf. The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission is a political subdivision of the State of Vermont. This status makes it a “public body” subject to the requirements of Vermont’s open meeting laws.  This webpage is designed to allow CCRPC to comply with the requirements of that law by providing the public with information about the law, providing a copy of the statute governing penalties and enforcement for violation of the open meeting laws, and providing a complaint form explaining the process by which a person may submit to CCRPC if they believe CCRPC or any of its committees have violated any of the provisions of the Open Meeting Law.

Vermont’s Open Meeting Law requires all meetings of public bodies to be open to the public at all times, unless a specific exception applies. The purpose of the law is to promote transparency, accountability, and better decision-making in government. In general, the Open Meeting Law requires public bodies to:

  • Provide advance public notice of meetings, including meeting agendas.
  • Discuss all business and take all actions in open meeting, unless an exception in statute applies.
  • Allow members of the public to attend and participate in meetings.
  • Take meeting minutes and make them available to the public.

SEE BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION ON:

NEW: JULY 1, 2024 CHANGES »
COMPLAINT PROCEDURES + FORM »
RESOURCES »
CONTACT »
1 V.S.A. § 314 »


NEW: JULY 1, 2024 CHANGES

Act 133 (S.55), effective July 1, 2024, is a permanent amendment to Vermont’s Open Meeting Law that:

  • Permits “advisory bodies” – those that do not have supervision, control, or jurisdiction over legislative, quasi-judicial, tax, or budgetary matters – to meet electronically without a physical meeting location (i.e., remotely);
  • Requires all other public bodies (i.e., “non-advisory bodies”) to record, in audio or video form, their meetings and post the recordings in a designated electronic location for a minimum of 30 days following the approval and posting of the official minutes of the meeting which was recorded;
  • Allows all public bodies to meet remotely in response to a state of emergency or “local incident”;
  • Requires all public bodies to provide local residents, members of the press, or members of the body itself electronic/telephonic or in-person meeting access options to a regularly scheduled meeting, if requested (unless it causes an undue hardship);
  • Requires a municipality to post on its website (if it maintains one):
    • an explanation of the procedures for submitting notice of an Open Meeting Law violation to the public body or the Attorney General; and
    • a copy of the text of 1 V.S.A. § 314; and
  • Imposes annual training requirements on selectboard chairs, town managers, and mayors (beginning January 1, 2025).

CCRPC-Specific open meeting law INFORMATION

View a two-page summary of the Open Meeting Law, including the latest updates, here.
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COMPLAINT PROCEDURES + FORM

The procedures for submitting notice of an Open Meeting Law violation to the public body or the Attorney General are as summarized below, with the full text of the subchapter available here and also included below.

how to file a complaint

If you believe an Open Meeting Law violation has occurred, the first step is to submit a written notice to the public body, alleging a specific violation and requesting a specific cure. CCRPC provides a complaint form in three formats below.

complaint form + CONTACT INFORMATION

A complaint form is available here in three formats:

To submit a complaint, fill out the form below and submit it via email or mail to:

Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission
ATTN: Emma Vaughn, Communications Manager |
evaughn@ccrpcvt.org | (802) 861-0114
110 West Canal Street, Suite 202
Winooski, VT 05404

To find a contact person for each CCRPC committee, visit the Committees page.

RESPONSE REQUIREMENTS + TIMELINE

Upon receipt of a written notice, the public body must respond within 10 calendar days, either by acknowledging the violation and stating its intent to cure it or by stating its determination that no violation occurred and so no cure is necessary. Failure to respond is treated as a denial of the violation.

If the public body acknowledges a violation of the open meeting law, it must cure the violation within 14 calendar days.

For complete details, view the Penalty + Enforcement text below.
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resources

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Contact

For more information, contact Emma Vaughn, CCRPC Communications Manager: (802) 861-0114 or evaughn@ccrpcvt.org.
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1 V.S.A. § 314

Title General Provisions

Chapter 005 Common Law; General Rights

Subchapter 002 Public Information

§ 314. Penalty and enforcement

(a) A person who is a member of a public body and who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of this subchapter, a person who knowingly and intentionally violates the provisions of this subchapter on behalf or at the behest of a public body, or a person who knowingly and intentionally participates in the wrongful exclusion of any person or persons from any meeting subject to this subchapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $500.00.

(b)(1) Prior to instituting an action under subsection (c) of this section, the Attorney General or any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this subchapter shall provide the public body written notice that alleges a specific violation of this subchapter and requests a specific cure of such violation. The public body will not be liable for attorney’s fees and litigation costs under subsection (d) of this section if it cures in fact a violation of this subchapter in accordance with the requirements of this subsection.

(2) Upon receipt of the written notice of alleged violation, the public body shall respond publicly to the alleged violation within 10 calendar days by:

(A) acknowledging the violation of this subchapter and stating an intent to cure the violation within 14 calendar days; or

(B) stating that the public body has determined that no violation has occurred and that no cure is necessary.

(3) Failure of a public body to respond to a written notice of alleged violation within 10 calendar days shall be treated as a denial of the violation for purposes of enforcement of the requirements of this subchapter.

(4) Within 14 calendar days after a public body acknowledges a violation under subdivision (2)(A) of this subsection, the public body shall cure the violation at an open meeting by:

(A) either ratifying, or declaring as void, any action taken at or resulting from:

(i) a meeting that was not noticed in accordance with subsection 312(c) of this title; or

(ii) a meeting that a person or the public was wrongfully excluded from attending; or

(iii) an executive session or portion thereof not authorized under subdivisions 313(a)(1)-(10) of this title; and

(B) adopting specific measures that actually prevent future violations.

(c) Following an acknowledgment or denial of a violation and, if applicable, following expiration of the 14-calendar-day cure period for public bodies acknowledging a violation, the Attorney General or any person aggrieved by a violation of the provisions of this subchapter may bring an action in the Civil Division of the Superior Court in the county in which the violation has taken place for appropriate injunctive relief or for a declaratory judgment. An action may be brought under this section no later than one year after the meeting at which the alleged violation occurred or to which the alleged violation relates. Except as to cases the court considers of greater importance, proceedings before the Civil Division of the Superior Court, as authorized by this section and appeals therefrom, take precedence on the docket over all cases and shall be assigned for hearing and trial or for argument at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.

(d) The court shall assess against a public body found to have violated the requirements of this subchapter reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in any case under this subchapter in which the complainant has substantially prevailed, unless the court finds that:

(1)(A) the public body had a reasonable basis in fact and law for its position; and

(B) the public body acted in good faith. In determining whether a public body acted in good faith, the court shall consider, among other factors, whether the public body responded to a notice of an alleged violation of this subchapter in a timely manner under subsection (b) of this section; or

(2) the public body cured the violation in accordance with subsection (b) of this section. (Amended 1979, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. April 24, 1980; 1987, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2013, No. 143 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2015, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 24, 2016; 2017, No. 113 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
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