On March 29, 2023, Governor Healey signed into law a supplemental budget bill which, among other things, extends the temporary provisions to the Open Meeting Law that permit government meetings to be conducted remotely until March 31, 2025. Specifically, this further extension allows public bodies to continue holding meetings remotely without a quorum of the public body physically present at a meeting location, and to provide “adequate, alternative” access to remote meetings. The language does not make any substantive changes to the Open Meeting Law other than extending the expiration date of the temporary provisions regarding remote meetings from March 31, 2023 to March 31, 2025.
Town Manager Paul Bockelman said that the town is planning to equip several rooms in Town Hall to permit hybrid meetings, where some committee members are present in person and others are participating remotely, but that there are not enough spaces to accommodate the meetings of all the town’s boards and committees. Currently, only the Town Room at Town Hall can accommodate hybrid meetings. The Town Council noted previously that public participation in meetings has greatly increased with the introduction of Zoom meetings three years ago. Also, the Zoom technology allows all meetings to be recorded and then posted on the town website.
With the extension of the remote meeting option, each town committee and board can decide whether to meet in person or remotely.