Maine Revised Statutes

§411. Right To Know Advisory Committee

1. Advisory committee established.  The Right To Know Advisory Committee, referred to in this chapter as "the advisory committee," is established to serve as a resource for ensuring compliance with this chapter and upholding the integrity of the purposes underlying this chapter as it applies to all public entities in the conduct of the public's business.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
2. Membership.  The advisory committee consists of the following members:
A. One Senator who is a member of the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters, appointed by the President of the Senate; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
B. One member of the House of Representatives who is a member of the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters, appointed by the Speaker of the House; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
C. One representative of municipal interests, appointed by the Governor; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
D. One representative of county or regional interests, appointed by the President of the Senate; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
E. One representative of school interests, appointed by the Governor; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
F. One representative of law enforcement interests, appointed by the President of the Senate; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
G. One representative of the interests of State Government, appointed by the Governor; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
H. One representative of a statewide coalition of advocates of freedom of access, appointed by the Speaker of the House; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
I. One representative of newspaper and other press interests, appointed by the President of the Senate; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
J. One representative of newspaper publishers, appointed by the Speaker of the House; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
K. Two representatives of broadcasting interests, one appointed by the President of the Senate and one appointed by the Speaker of the House; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
L. Two representatives of the public, one appointed by the President of the Senate and one appointed by the Speaker of the House; and [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
M. The Attorney General or the Attorney General's designee. [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
The advisory committee shall invite the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to designate a member of the judicial branch to serve as a member of the committee.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
3. Terms of appointment.  The terms of appointment are as follows.
A. Except as provided in paragraph B, members are appointed for terms of 3 years. [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
B. Members who are Legislators are appointed for the duration of the legislative terms of office in which they were appointed. [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
C. Members may serve beyond their designated terms until their successors are appointed. [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
4. First meeting; chair.  The Executive Director of the Legislative Council shall call the first meeting of the advisory committee as soon as funding permits. At the first meeting, the advisory committee shall select a chair from among its members and may select a new chair annually.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
5. Meetings.  The advisory committee may meet as often as necessary but not fewer than 4 times a year. A meeting may be called by the chair or by any 4 members.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
6. Duties and powers.  The advisory committee:
A. Shall provide guidance in ensuring access to public records and proceedings and help to establish an effective process to address general compliance issues and respond to requests for interpretation and clarification of the laws; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
B. Shall serve as the central source and coordinator of information about the freedom of access laws and the people's right to know. The advisory committee shall provide the basic information about the requirements of the law and the best practices for agencies and public officials. The advisory committee shall also provide general information about the freedom of access laws for a wider and deeper understanding of citizens' rights and their role in open government. The advisory committee shall coordinate the education efforts by providing information about the freedom of access laws and whom to contact for specific inquiries; [RR 2005, c. 2, §1 (COR).]
C. Shall serve as a resource to support the establishment and maintenance of a central publicly accessible website that provides the text of the freedom of access laws and provides specific guidance on how a member of the public can use the law to be a better informed and active participant in open government. The website must include the contact information for agencies, as well as whom to contact with complaints and concerns. The website must also include, or contain a link to, a list of statutory exceptions to the public records laws; [RR 2005, c. 2, §1 (COR).]
D. Shall serve as a resource to support training and education about the freedom of access laws. Although each agency is responsible for training for the specific records and meetings pertaining to that agency's mission, the advisory committee shall provide core resources for the training, share best practices experiences and support the establishment and maintenance of online training as well as written question-and-answer summaries about specific topics. The advisory committee shall recommend a process for collecting the training completion records required under section 412, subsection 3 and for making that information publicly available; [2007, c. 576, §1 (AMD).]
E. Shall serve as a resource for the review committee under subchapter 1-A in examining public records exceptions in both existing laws and in proposed legislation; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
F. Shall examine inconsistencies in statutory language and may recommend standardized language in the statutes to clearly delineate what information is not public and the circumstances under which that information may appropriately be released; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
G. May make recommendations for changes in the statutes to improve the laws and may make recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court and local and regional governmental entities with regard to best practices in providing the public access to records and proceedings and to maintain the integrity of the freedom of access laws and their underlying principles. The joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters may report out legislation based on the advisory committee's recommendations; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
H. Shall serve as an adviser to the Legislature when legislation affecting public access is considered; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
I. May conduct public hearings, conferences, workshops and other meetings to obtain information about, discuss, publicize the needs of and consider solutions to problems concerning access to public proceedings and records; [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
J. Shall review the collection, maintenance and use of records by agencies and officials to ensure that confidential records and information are protected and public records remain accessible to the public; and [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
K. May undertake other activities consistent with its listed responsibilities. [2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW).]
[ 2007, c. 576, §1 (AMD) .]
7. Outside funding for advisory committee activities.  The advisory committee may seek outside funds to fund the cost of public hearings, conferences, workshops, other meetings, other activities of the advisory committee and educational and training materials. Contributions to support the work of the advisory committee may not be accepted from any party having a pecuniary or other vested interest in the outcome of the matters being studied. Any person, other than a state agency, desiring to make a financial or in-kind contribution shall certify to the Legislative Council that it has no pecuniary or other vested interest in the outcome of the advisory committee's activities. Such a certification must be made in the manner prescribed by the Legislative Council. All contributions are subject to approval by the Legislative Council. All funds accepted must be forwarded to the Executive Director of the Legislative Council along with an accounting record that includes the amount of funds, the date the funds were received, from whom the funds were received and the purpose of and any limitation on the use of those funds. The Executive Director of the Legislative Council shall administer any funds received by the advisory committee.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
8. Compensation.  Legislative members of the advisory committee are entitled to receive the legislative per diem, as defined in Title 3, section 2, and reimbursement for travel and other necessary expenses for their attendance at authorized meetings of the advisory committee. Public members not otherwise compensated by their employers or other entities that they represent are entitled to receive reimbursement of necessary expenses and, upon a demonstration of financial hardship, a per diem equal to the legislative per diem for their attendance at authorized meetings of the advisory committee.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
9. Staffing.  The Legislative Council shall provide staff support for the operation of the advisory committee, except that the Legislative Council staff support is not authorized when the Legislature is in regular or special session. In addition, the advisory committee may contract for administrative, professional and clerical services if funding permits.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
10. Report.  By January 15, 2007 and at least annually thereafter, the advisory committee shall report to the Governor, the Legislative Council, the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over judiciary matters and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court about the state of the freedom of access laws and the public's access to public proceedings and records.
[ 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW) .]
SECTION HISTORY
RR 2005, c. 2, §1 (COR). 2005, c. 631, §1 (NEW). 2007, c. 576, §1 (AMD).

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