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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and the Wisconsin Department of Justice hosted the first of a series of statewide seminars on open meetings law and public records law. Today was the first time the Department of Justice offered the annual training via videoconferencing to locations in Eau Claire, Rhinelander, Green Bay and La Crosse. The seminar began at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at Noon.
In his remarks, Van Hollen emphasized the importance of these seminars in promoting a better understanding of the open meetings and public records laws; laws that Van Hollen described as "an essential component of effective citizen oversight of the workings of our democratic government."
"I believe very strongly in my office's role to help government officials and the public better understand their responsibilities and rights under the law, " said Van Hollen. "We offer seminars such as these free of charge because we want to maximize compliance. I truly believe that preventing mistakes is preferable to prosecuting mistakes."
The free seminars are only a part of the Wisconsin Department of Justice's campaign to promote compliance with public records and open meetings laws. In addition to the seminars, the Department of Justice recently published newly revised compliance guides for public records law and open meetings law. The guidelines are available on the Department's website at http://www.doj.state.wi.us
Assistant Attorney General Tom Bellavia presented on the open meetings law and Assistant Attorney General Mary Burke presented on the public records law.
The remaining seminars will take place in Milwaukee (October 8) and Madison (October 9). Each seminar is free and open to the public, though registration is required due to limited seating. Individuals are invited to register at the Wisconsin Department of Justice website (http://www.doj.state.wi.us). They may also register by calling the Department of Justice at (608) 267-1307. Registrants should provide their name, title, organization or agency, and identify the seminar they wish to attend.
A short audio file containing Attorney General Van Hollen's announcement of the seminars can be found at http://www.doj.state.wi.us and users should click on the link entitled "Open Meetings Seminars 2009 Audio file."