Title 1: General Provisions
Chapter 5: COMMON LAW; GENERAL RIGHTS
Sub-Chapter 2: Public Information
1 V.S.A. § 312. Right to attend meetings of public agencies
§ 312. Right to attend meetings of public agencies
(a) All meetings of a public body are declared to be open to the public at all times, except as provided in section 313 of this title. No resolution, rule, regulation, appointment, or formal action shall be considered binding except as taken or made at such open meeting, except as provided under section 313(a)(2) of this title. A meeting may be conducted by audio conference or other electronic means, as long as the provisions of this subchapter are met. A public body shall record by audio tape, all hearings held to provide a forum for public comment on a proposed rule, pursuant to 3 V.S.A. § 840. The public shall have access to copies of such tapes as described in section 316 of this title.
(b)(1) Minutes shall be taken of all meetings of public bodies. The minutes shall cover all topics and motions that arise at the meeting and give a true indication of the business of the meeting. Minutes shall include at least the following minimal information:
(A) All members of the public body present;
(B) All other active participants in the meeting;
(C) All motions, proposals and resolutions made, offered and considered, and what disposition is made of same; and
(D) The results of any votes, with a record of the individual vote of each member if a roll call is taken.
(2) Minutes of all public meetings shall be matters of public record, shall be kept by the clerk or secretary of the public body, and shall be available for inspection by any person and for purchase of copies at cost upon request after five days from the date of any meeting.
(c)(1) The time and place of all regular meetings subject to this section shall be clearly designated by statute, charter, regulation, ordinance, bylaw, resolution or other determining authority of the public body and this information shall be available to any person upon request.
(2) The time, place and purpose of a special meeting subject to this section shall be publicly announced at least 24 hours before the meeting. Municipal public bodies shall post notices of special meetings in or near the municipal clerk's office and in at least two other public places in the municipality, at least 24 hours before the meeting. In addition, notice shall be given, either orally or in writing, to each member of the public body at least 24 hours before the meeting, except that a member may waive notice of a special meeting.
(3) Emergency meetings may be held without public announcement, without posting of notices and without 24-hour notice to members, provided some public notice thereof is given as soon as possible before any such meeting. Emergency meetings may be held only when necessary to respond to an unforeseen occurrence or condition requiring immediate attention by the public body.
(4) Any adjourned meeting shall be considered a new meeting, unless the time and place for the adjourned meeting is announced before the meeting adjourns.
(5) An editor, publisher or news director of any newspaper, radio station or television station serving the area of the state in which the public body has jurisdiction may request in writing that a public body notify the editor, publisher or news director of special meetings of the public body. The request shall apply only to the calendar year in which it is made, unless made in December, in which case it shall apply also to the following year.
(d) The agenda for a regular or special meeting shall be made available to the news media or concerned persons prior to the meeting upon specific request.
(e) Nothing in this section or in section 313 of this title shall be construed as extending to the judicial branch of the government of Vermont or of any part of the same or to the public service board; nor shall it extend to the deliberations of any public body in connection with a quasi-judicial proceeding; nor shall anything in this section be construed to require the making public of any proceedings, records, or acts which are specifically made confidential by the laws of the United States of America or of this state.
(f) A written decision issued by a public body in connection with a quasi-judicial proceeding need not be adopted at an open meeting if the decision will be a public record.
(g) The provisions of this subchapter shall not apply to site inspections for the purpose of assessing damage or making tax assessments or abatements, clerical work, or work assignments of staff or other personnel. Routine day-to-day administrative matters that do not require action by the public body, may be conducted outside a duly warned meeting, provided that no money is appropriated, expended, or encumbered.
(h) At an open meeting the public shall be given a reasonable opportunity to express its opinion on matters considered by the public body during the meeting as long as order is maintained. Public comment shall be subject to reasonable rules established by the chairperson. This subsection shall not apply to quasi-judicial proceedings.
(i) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the parole board from meeting at correctional facilities with attendance at the meeting subject to rules regarding access and security established by the superintendent of the facility. (Amended 1973, No. 78, § 1, eff. April 23, 1973; 1979, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1987, No. 256 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1997, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 64, eff. April 29, 1998; 1999, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § 7.)