In response to restrictions on person-to-person contact spurred by COVID-19, the Legislature passed Act 92 (the Act) in 2020 which temporarily changed Vermont’s Open Meeting Law. The Act allowed municipal public bodies to hold completely remote meetings through electronic participation only. This was a unique, temporary situation, as the Open Meeting Law typically requires that public bodies designate and staff a physical location where the public may attend.
While Act 92’s primary objective was to balance the objectives of transparency and accountability with ensuring the continuity of local government during the time of a declared state of emergency in response to a global health pandemic, it also endeared local government officials and their residents to the convenience and viability of conducting meetings remotely. Even though Act 92 ended when the Governor lifted Vermont’s State of Emergency on June 15, 2021, public meetings can still include an option for remote access. The Open Meeting Law does not permit remote-only meetings (as there must be a physical location, hence the term “hybrid” meetings), but it does authorize municipal local bodies to meet by electronic or other means so long as certain conditions are met.
This toolkit provides guidance to public bodies to hold in-person and remote meetings – i.e. “hybrid” meetings – while adhering to the Open Meeting Law.
If you have additional questions about Vermont's Open Meeting Law requirements, please view our Open Meeting Law resources or contact the VLCT member Municipal Inquiry Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-649-7915 for assistance.