December 19, 2022
Senate Majority Leader
Senate Minority Leader
Assembly Minority Leader
Re: Passing new rules to ensure that all of your public meetings are webcast
Dear Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Minority Leader Ortt, and Assembly Minority Leader Barclay:
We write to urge you to promptly pass new rules to ensure that all of your public meetings are webcast.
Due to changes in the Open Meetings Law (OML) approved by the Legislature in April, if the Senate and Assembly intend to use videoconferencing to allow your members to participate remotely in public meetings, you must adopt a one-time joint resolution after a public hearing to authorize videoconferencing.1
Legislators may participate remotely in committee meetings, floor proceedings, or public hearings, provided that a quorum of members is present in person. Under the new OML requirements, if members of the public body participate in meetings remotely, the public must also be able to view and/or participate with videoconferencing.
As you consider adopting this resolution, we also ask you to adopt the following changes, either in a resolution authorizing videoconferencing, or the Joint Rules of each house:
- Webcast all of the Senate and Assembly’s committee meetings, and make archived videos and transcripts available online. Implementing videoconferencing technology for members’ use will facilitate webcasting meetings.
- Allow the public to participate in public hearings through videoconferencing, using both internet and phone options to accommodate different levels of technology literacy and internet access.
- Require that American Sign Language (ASL) and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) interpretation are available for all webcasts of meetings where public comment is taken, such as legislative hearings, without requiring a specific request, to ensure full accessibility for Deaf New Yorkers.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senior Director, Elections and Government
Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Joseph G. Rappaport
Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID)
Sharon McLennon Wier, Ph.D., MSEd., CRC, LMHC
Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
Laura Ladd Bierman
League of Women Voters of New York State
Alex Thompson, J.D.
Director of Advocacy
New York Association on Independent Living
New York City Bar Association
Committee on Government Ethics and State Affairs
Senior Policy Counsel
New York Civil Liberties Union
New York Coalition for Open Government
Ruth Lowenkron, Esq.
Director, Disability Justice Program
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
New York Public Interest Research Group
Douglas J. Usiak
Western New York Independent Living, Inc.
Click here to view the letter as a PDF.
1See the Committee on Open Government’s sample resolution and explanation of the Open Meetings Law requirements: https://opengovernment.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/05/chapter-56-of-the-laws-of-2022-guidance-document-05-20-22.pdf