Journalist's Guide

Open Meetings Act Caution: The Open Meetings Act provisions change frequently with varying effective dates. This guide provides a quick reference to general principles of the Act. For the most current information regarding the provisions and nuances of the Act and the entities to which it applies, please refer to the website link listed at the end of this section. Maryland's Open Meetings Act is a statute that requires many state and local public bodies to hold their meetings in public to give the public adequate notice of those meetings and to allow the public to inspect meetings minutes. The Act permits public bodies to discuss some topics confidentially. The Act's goals are to increase the public's faith in government, ensure the accountability of government to the public, and enhance the public's ability to participate effectively in our democracy. A meeting will generally be subject to the Act if a quorum of the members of a public body has convened to conduct public business. The Act does not apply to a public body’s performance of the judicial function (e.g. courts) and most quasi-judicial functions. However, it does apply to licensing, permitting, and many land use discussions. The Act applies only in a limited way to the performance of merely “administrative” functions. Some public bodies are governed by laws that impose more stringent requirements. If so, those requirements apply. The Open Meetings Compliance Board issues advisory opinions in response to written complaints about violations of the Act. The Compliance Board is an independent state entity and its three members are appointed by the Governor. Although the Compliance Board is not part of the Office of the Attorney General, the office provides the board with administrative staff and legal advice. It also publishes its opinions and notices on the Office of Attorney General’s website. The Compliance Board has no office or budget of its own and its members serve without compensation. Procedures for meetings subject to the Open Meetings Act: When a public body conducts a meeting that is subject to the Act, several actions must occur before, during, and after the meeting. Before • Give “reasonable advance notice” of the meeting to the general public which could be on a website if the body has one, or posting at an accessible location, and keep a copy of the notice. • Make an agenda available when notice is posted, or, if not yet determined, as soon as practicable, but at least 24 hours before the meeting. • Make arrangements for the public to attend and for minutes to be kept in writing or produced as live, archived, and streaming audio or video. • Comply with the Act’s training requirements.


Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs