NEFAC Asks Rhode Island Governor to Support Open Meeting Law Changes

CONTACT Justin Silverman | 774.244.2365 |


The New England First Amendment Coalition recently asked Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to sign a bill that would provide the public more time to be notified about municipality meetings and would require minutes of those meetings to be posted online.

House Bill 6323 excludes weekends and holidays from the calculation of time required for advanced notice of meetings. It also requires municipalities to post their minutes online, as is currently required of state public bodies.

“These are both significant improvements that advance the public interest and promote transparency in government,” wrote NEFAC and other open government advocates in a July 17 letter to the governor. “Put simply, the public cannot know what is being done in its name unless it can attend public meetings and see the results, and this legislation makes that more likely.”

Also signing the letter were Access/RI, the ACLU of Rhode Island, Common Cause Rhode Island, the League of Women Voters of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island Journalism Department.

In their appeal to the governor, the groups referenced a 2016 ACLU report that cited multiple instances of minutes from a Monday meeting not being posted until the following Friday. It also cited more than 12 instances where meeting notices included a deadline for accommodation requests with that deadline already being passed by the time the notice was posted.

NEFAC advocates for First Amendment freedoms and the public’s right to know throughout the region. Most recently in Rhode Island, the coalition urged support for student journalist protections, advocated for First Amendment safeguards in “revenge pornography” legislation and called for the release of 38 Studios grand jury records.

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.

Our coalition is funded through contributions made by those who value the First Amendment and who strive to keep government accountable. Please make a donation here.

Major Supporters of NEFAC for this year include the Barr Foundation, The Providence Journal Charitable Legacy Fund, The Robertson Foundation, Lois Howe McClure, The Boston Globe and Boston University. Celebration Supporters include The Hartford Courant and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.