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ADV OM 17-03 (Advisory Opinion Re: Amendments to R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-7(d))

Legal counsel for the Town of Burrillville and the Rhode Island Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal & Review sought an OMA advisory opinion concerning the interpretation of the recently amended R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-7(d). The amendment provides that "[a]ll public bodies shall keep official and/or approved minutes of all meetings of the body and shall file a copy of the minutes of all open meetings with the secretary of state for inspection by the public within thirty-five (35) days of the meeting[.]" R.I. Gen. Laws 42-46-7(d). While we sympathized with the precarious position that this amended language places public bodies that meet less than every thirty-five days, we stated that we do not have the authority to unilaterally amend or interpret away clear legislative language. Instead, the resulting problem is a political one, not a legal one, and a remedial solution must come from the General Assembly.

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