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Vermont Open Meetings Law

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The Vermont Open Meetings Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted. Title 1, Chapter 5 of the Vermont Statutes define the law.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA

Here is a list of open meetings lawsuits in Vermont. For more information go the page or go to Vermont sunshine lawsuits.
(The cases are listed alphabetically. To order them by year please click the icon to the right of the Year heading)

We do not currently have any pages on open meetings litigation in Vermont.

Proposed open meetings legislation


See also Proposed transparency legislation, Open meetings legislation

We do not currently have any legislation for Vermont in 2010.

Statement of purpose

The statement of purpose of the Open Meetings Act states,
"In enacting this subchapter, the legislature finds and declares that public commissions, boards and councils and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business and are accountable to them pursuant to Chapter I, Article VI of the Vermont constitution."[1]

Which government meetings are open to the public?

The law states that a meeting is any gathering of a quorum of the members of a public body for the purposes of deliberating or deciding on public business.[2]

Notable exemptions to this definition include:

  • on site inspection[3]

What government bodies are subject to the laws?

The act defines government body as any board, council, or commission of the state or one of its political subdivisions.

Notable exemptions to the definition of public body include:

  • advisory boards created by the government
  • the judicial branch and any body acting in a quasi-judicial function[2]

==== Legislature====


The legislature falls under the definition of public body found at 1 V.S.A. § 310. and is subject to the Vermont Open Meetings Law. In addition, at 1 V.S.A. § 313.(c) the legislature goes on to affirm that the provision of the law apply to them, stating, "The senate and house of representatives, in exercising the power to make their own rules conferred by Chapter II of the Vermont Constitution, shall be governed by the provisions of this section in regulating the admission of the public as provided in Chapter II, { 8 of the Constitution."

Notice requirements

The act requires that all public bodies to post notice of their regularly scheduled meetings through the adoption of statutes or ordinances. Special meetings outside of those regularly scheduled by statute must be accompanied by 24 hours notice which must be posted in at least 3 locations within the jurisdiction of the public body. The act allows meetings to be reconvened without notice, provided that the next meeting is announced during the previous one. Public agencies are also required to send notice to all news agencies who have requested it.[3]

Meeting process

The act requires that all public agencies take detailed minutes of their meetings, to include the members present, all topics discussed, and all votes taken. These minutes are considered public records and must be made available to the public.[3]

Executive sessions

Common executive session exemptions
Personal privacy (including employees)Yes.pngp
Attorney-client privilege/litigation
Security/police informationYes.pngp
Purchase or sale of propertyYes.pngp
Union negotiationsYes.pngp
Licensing exams/decisions
Exempt under other lawsYes.pngp

Executive sessions may be called with a 2/3 vote for the following reasons:

  • labor negotiations and contracts
  • negotiating the sale or purchase of property
  • employment or evaluation of a public employee
  • disciplinary action against a public employee
  • to prevent clear and eminent peril to the public
  • to discuss matters exempt under the Vermont Public Records Law
  • student academic records or discipline
  • to hear testimony in parole proceedings
  • information protected by federal law

No final action may be taken during an executive session.[4]

If violated

If the courts discover a violation of the open meetings act, they may assess penalties of up to $500.[5]

See also

External links