Summary, Comparison and Excerpt of Changes to Open Meetings Law – April 2022


Summary of Changes in Final FY 2023 Budget

  • At least one physical location is required for meetings of public bodies.
  • A quorum must be present in person.
  • Public bodies can use videoconferencing at their discretion (not a mandate for hybrid), with certain requirements:
    • A resolution must be adopted by the public body after a public hearing specifying rules for members to participate via videoconference.
      • The Assembly and Senate must adopt a joint resolution 
      • Committees of public bodies can make separate determinations
      • Community boards in NYC make their own individual determinations
    • Members must be in person, except for certain circumstances: illness, caregiving responsibilities, disabilities, and other “significant and unexpected factors” that preclude attendance in person.
    • Members of public bodies participating via videoconference must be able to be seen, heard and identified.
    • Meeting minutes must note which members participated via videoconference.
    • Where public comment is authorized or required, public bodies must allow the public to participate via videoconference in real time, with the same ability to testify as members of the public who are in person.
    • Local bodies that use videoconferencing must have a website.
    • Video must be available within 5 business days, and for a minimum of 5 years after the meeting.
  • During states of emergency public bodies at their discretion can meet via videoconference without any in-person requirements.
  • By Jan 1, 2024 the Committee on Open Government must produce a report on implementation and application of the new videoconferencing law.
  • Meetings that are broadcast or use videoconferencing must use technology to permit access for members of the public with disabilities in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – (note: no specific requirements for closed captioning, ASL upon request, etc)
  • Phase in: Bodies are allowed for 60 more days after passage of the law (June 2022) to meet remotely without in-person requirements.
  • Law takes effect immediately, and expires on July 1, 2024.

Comparison of Groups’ Recommendations on Hybrid Meetings and Final Changes in NYS Budget

Recommendation in Groups’ March 16, 2022 LetterIncluded in Final Budget Language?
1. Require all state and local public bodies currently subject to OML to provide free, unrestricted remote video and voice access to their public meetings, including via telephone, using web-based video conferencing applications.Partial. Only required if bodies choose to use videoconferencing. No specificity about phone access. However, webcasting is required for state bodies under Executive Order 3 (Gov Spitzer).
2. Require either a majority of the body OR the presiding official or top deputy to attend all public meetings of public bodies in-person, but allow other members of the body to fully participate remotely, including being counted towards a quorum and voting. However, the presiding official should not be able to designate any colleague or representative for the in-person meeting.Yes. A quorum is required to attend in person, but for during a state of emergency, where bodies can choose to hold all remote meetings.
3. Require public bodies to provide an in-person, accessible meeting location that allows the interested public to attend per the existing requirement in OML. (Discontinue the requirement that public attendance must include access to other locations where individual members of the body are participating in the meeting.) Yes. At least one in-person location is required. Removes requirement for public access at all locations where public officials participate remotely.
4. Allow state and local public bodies to meet remotely using widely commercially available web applications like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc. as long as they meet basic security requirements established by the NYS Office of Information and Technology Services (ITS). Require ITS to facilitate use of widely available, low-cost applications, and eliminate any requirement that web-based video conferencing apps must be hosted on state or local government-controlled or -owned servers. All such meetings must enable closed captioning, which those services provide, and provide an American Sign Language interpreter upon request.Partial. Videoconferencing is authorized, but not specific commitment of resources from the state. Technology must be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) but no specific language about closed captioning or ASL upon request.
5. Allow ITS to provide a time-limited waiver of two or three years for localities that lack sufficient broadband access to meet requirement #4. Not included. Videoconferencing is authorized for local governments, but not required.
6. At meetings that allow for public comments, require public bodies to enable the public to provide spoken comment in real-time, both in-person and remotely.Partial. Where videoconferencing is used and bodies are required to or authorize public comment, public bodies must allow public comment via videoconferencing in real time. The law also requires the same level of participation for the public joining via videoconference as for in-person commenters.
7. Require public bodies to publish online, replayable recordings of their public meetings within one business day.Partial. Required within five business days.
8. Require public bodies to maintain publicly available online recordings of their open meetings for at least five years. Yes. Required for 5 years.

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