Vermont has long recognized as a matter of common law that its citizens have a right to inspect public records and to attend the meetings and proceedings of any government body. Matte v. City of Winooski, 129 Vt. 61, 271 A.2d 830 (1970). This fundamental right of every Vermont citizen encompasses not only the "right to know" but also the right to be present, to be heard, and to participate. State v. Vermont Emergency Board, 136 Vt. 506, 394 A.2d 1360 (1978).
Vermont's "right to know" laws are codified in two short pieces of legislation, the open meetings law, 1 V.S.A. §§ 310-314, and the open records law, 1 V.S.A. §§ 315-320. Both laws are somewhat broadly stated and are not explained by any published legislative history. Several opinions by the Vermont Supreme Court have held that both statutes are to be liberally construed in order to implement the twin policy goals of open access and public disclosure. See, e.g., Trombley v. Bellows Falls Union High Sch. Dist., 160 Vt. 101, 624 A.2d 857 (1993).