Municipal Law News

Governor has signed into law a bill extending remote meeting participation to March 31st

On July 16, the Lt. Governor, as Acting Governor, signed legislation that simply extends certain COVID-related amendments to the Open Meeting Law, as modified by Chapter 22 of the Acts of 2022, including permitting remote meetings and participation until March 31, 2023.   The legislation was amended to include an emergency preamble thereby giving immediate affect to these changes.  At MMLA’s urging, and as previously reported, no additional changes were made to the Open Meeting Law.  See related coverage below.  A link to the signed legislation will be added here shortly.

Legislative Update! Bill extending remote meeting participation advanced to Governor’s desk.

Earlier this evening, at the urging of MMLA, in partnership with MMA and other stakeholders, the House and Senate agreed to simply extend remote meeting participation options under current COVID-related relief measures until March 31, 2023, which is set to expire tomorrow.  I am pleased to report that this extension bill was enacted by both branches a short time ago and emergency preambles were added thereby giving immediate effect upon the Governor’s signature, which may occur as early as tomorrow.

–See following link:  www.malegislature.gov/Bills/192/S2985 for legislative history and bill text.–

As previously reported, the Senate had passed an extension of such local option relief until December 15, 2023, as contained in outside sections of its FY23 state budget plan and also as part of a separate stand-alone bill.  Last week, the Senate stand-alone bill was amended by the House to extend such relief until March 31, 2023, and thereafter require remote access to all meetings of public bodies if public participation is required or permitted at such meeting, among other permanent changes.  The MMLA strongly advocated against the permanent changes introduced by the House, and urged legislative leadership to work collaboratively with all groups to develop a permanent solution during any extension period.  MMLA is also grateful to the State Auditor who raised similar concerns relative to the mandated remote participation language.

—Please refer to the MMLA website (www.massmunilaw.org) for copies of recent letters that MMLA transmitted to legislative leadership during these recent deliberations.—

We will be sure to update all of you with further developments as they occur.

In the meantime, I wish to express kudos to the entire MMLA Team for its concerted efforts!

MMLA’s Annual Half-day Luncheon and Seminar: Municipal Shared Services

Thursday, August 11, 2022, 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Publick House, 277 Main Street (Route 131), Sturbridge

The August Half-day Luncheon and Seminar is back this year. This annual event is returning to the Publick House in Sturbridge on Thursday, August 11, 2022, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Chaired once again by Mark G. Cerel, Franklin and Medway Town Counsel, this year’s program will focus on municipal shared services, such as intermunicipal agreements (IMAs), regionalization, and mutual aid. Additional program details, including the schedule, topics, and speakers, can be found on the MMLA website.

Registration is open to both MMLA members and non-members. The program charge for a MMLA member or local official whose legal counsel is a MMLA member is:

$90 for the Luncheon Buffet and Program, including Electronic Materials
$75 for only the Program, including Electronic Materials
There is a $10.00 surcharge for MMLA members not current on their dues or other non-members.

Thanks to the generous donations of our membership, grants are available to attorneys (whether they are members of MMLA or not) who are new to the practice of municipal law and want to see what MMLA and our programming is all about. If you or a colleague wish to inquire about financial assistance to attend this program through MMLA’s grant program, please contact Jim Lampke at jlampke@massmunilaw.org or 617-285-4561

Please share this information and invite colleagues who may be interested in this topic, including your town managers/administrators and others.

To register in advance for this in-person program, please go to this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MMLA2022AugHalf-day

Legislative Update on Remote Meetings

On July 7, the House engrossed its own version of legislation (H. 4991) to extend remote meeting participation options under current COVID-related relief until March 31, 2023, which is currently set to expire July 15, 2022.  Thereafter, the House bill would permanently require remote access to all meetings of public bodies if public participation is required or permitted at such meeting.  MMLA, along with MMA and others, have taken a strong position against making such permanent changes as proposed in the House legislation.  Click here for a copy of MMA’s letter of July 11, 2022, and here for a copy of MMLA’s letter.

As previously reported, the Senate recently passed its version of extension legislation (S. 2985) that would simply continue current remote participation options until December 15, 2023, a provision MMLA supported [See 7/6 letter here].   The Senate language does not include the permanent mandate language contained in the House bill.

MMLA is currently working with stakeholders to support an extension of the current remote participation relief option deadline in order to work next session on a permanent solution.

MMLA sends letter of support for Open Meeting Law changes permitting remote participation.

Earlier today, MMLA transmitted a letter to the legislature in support of measures contained in each the Senate-engrossed fiscal 2023 state budget bill (S. 2915) and a Senate-engrossed COVID-related emergency extension bill (S.2985) to extend the local option to remotely participation at meetings of public bodies and Town Meetings until December 15, 2023.  The budget bills are currently in conference committee while the stand-alone measure is currently before the House Committee on Ways and Means.  Click here for a copy MMLA’s letter of support.

MMLA Webinar: Municipal Land Acquisitions and Dispositions 101

On May 26, 2022, the New Lawyers Committee of MMLA hosted a webinar panel on municipal land acquisitions and dispositions. This program was geared towards lawyers new to the practice of municipal law; but all were welcome to attend!  Attendees learned from Mina Makarious (Anderson & Kreiger), Jennie Merrill (Miyares & Harrington), and Emily Izzo (DOR’s Bureau of Municipal Finance Law). Topics included Chapter 30B, eminent domain, land restrictions, Article 97, town meeting requirements, purchase and sale agreements, and financing issues. The program was free and open to non-MMLA members who wanted to learn the nuts and bolts of municipal land transactions.

Here are the links to the program materials and the audio and video recordings of the webinar:

Land Acquisition / Disposition:  Taxes and Proceeds

Real Property Procurement: Acquisitions and Dispositions: Basic Overview

Audio Recording

Video Recording

 

SAVE THE DATE! – June 8, 2022, 12:30 PM – Annual Business Meeting and CLE Program

REGISTER NOW – MMLA Webinar –- Wetlands Act 21 Day Deadlines and Annual Business Meeting

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 12:30 p.m.
Zoom Webinar

Gregor I. McGregor, Esq. of McGregor Legere & Stevens PC, will review the Oyster Creek and recent Boston Clear Water cases on compliance with the 21-day deadlines in the Wetlands Protection Act. Home Rule bylaw and ordinance jurisdiction over projects in and near wetland resource areas depends on Conservation Commission compliance with 21-day deadlines for commencing public hearings and issuing decisions on Notices of Intent (NOIs). These provisions in the state Wetlands Protection Act are binding on Commissions and failure to meet them is potentially fatal to any decision the Commission may render. This program will address how municipal counsels and their Conservation Commissions can cope with those strict deadlines.

MMLA will hold its Annual Business Meeting immediately following the educational program portion of the webinar. During the meeting, MMLA members will vote on the Nominating Committee’s recommended slate of officers and directors for the July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023 term. Members will also vote on proposed revisions to MMLA Bylaws and conduct any other necessary business. See the links below for the Nominating Committee slate and documents about the proposed Bylaw revisions:

  1. Nominating Committee’s slate
  2. Clean copy of proposed revised Bylaws
  3. Comparison of current and proposed revised Bylaws
  4. Summary memo of proposed revisions to Bylaws

Both MMLA members and non-members may attend the educational program portion of the webinar. Please share this information and invite colleagues who may be interested in this topic, including your local conservation commission and team.

There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. To register, please go to the following link:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_0ZE36ZpZRbGVPMp-ID3tEg 

Note that you can register to attend the webinar at any time, including after the 12:30 p.m. start time.

MMLA Free Webinar – “Municipal Land Acquisitions & Dispositions101”

The New Lawyers Committee of MMLA will be hosting a webinar panel on municipal land acquisitions and dispositions. This program is geared towards lawyers new to the practice of municipal law; but all are welcome to attend! Come learn from Mina Makarious (Anderson & Kreiger), Jennie Merrill (Miyares & Harrington), and Emily Izzo (DOR’s Bureau of Municipal Finance Law). Topics will include Chapter 30B, eminent domain, land restrictions, Article 97, town meeting requirements, purchase and sale agreements, and financing issues.

The program is free and open to non-MMLA members who want to learn the nuts and bolts of municipal land transactions. Please share this event invite.

What: Municipal Land Acquisitions and Dispositions 101
When: May 26, 2022
Time: 12pm – 2pm
Where: Zoom
Questions: Email Ivria Fried (Miyares and Harrington) at ifried@miyares-harrington.com

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_MKAh_7y8QDyaVXGHtT7UUg

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.