The New York State Committee on Open Government held a virtual training on the Open Meetings Law on December 16. Kristin O’Neill, the Assistant Director of the Committee on Open Government, conducted the session which consisted of a one-hour overview of the statute followed by a question-and-answer period.
The presentation outlined the requirements for public participation, video conferencing and meeting locations, both in the existing statute and the changes allowed through Executive Order and through legislative action under Chapter 417 of the Laws off 2021, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The current legislation allows for virtual attendance for board members and for boards to bar in-person attendance of the public, as long as virtual access is allowed, and the meeting is recorded and later transcribed. These current amendments to Open Meetings Law are due to be repealed on January 15, 2022.
Other new legislation highlighted was Chapter 481 of the laws of 2021 which was signed into law in October and requires that records to be discussed at a meeting be made available by posting on a municipality’s website (if they have one) at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting. This is a change to the statute which had required that records be made available upon request “prior to or at the meeting” which has been in effect since 2012 to a firm 24-hour prior standard. Also highlighted was Chapter 587 of the Laws of 2021 signed into law in November which amended Open Meetings Law to require that agencies which maintain a website and have a highspeed internet connection post minutes on the website within two weeks of a meeting or one week of an executive session.
The session also discussed other pertinent sections of Open Meetings Law regarding quorums, what constitutes a meeting, notice requirements, minutes, recording meetings, executive sessions, public participation, exceptions to the law and non-compliance and enforcement.
To access a copy of the power point of the session visit: opengovernment.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2021/12/oml-information-session.pdf. To contact the Committee on Open Government with questions call (518)474-2518 or email opengovernment.ny.gov.