March 15, 2023
Assembly Passes Legislative Package in Honor of National Sunshine Week
Speaker Carl Heastie and Governmental Operations Committee Chair John T. McDonald III today marked the nationwide observance of Sunshine Week with the passage of a package of legislation designed to bring greater transparency, accountability and accessibility to state government.
“New Yorkers deserve a government that works for them and does so in an open and transparent fashion,” said Speaker Heastie. “Today’s legislative package updates our financial disclosure requirements, closes loopholes and improves accessibility to help build trust between the public and state government.”
“The measures we passed today help fulfill our mission to strengthen the public’s confidence in New York State government by increasing transparency, accountability and accessibility,” said Assemblymember McDonald. “Specifically, my bills will ensure transparency in leases made by the state with an LLC and require state agencies to post public documents on their website for easier access by the public.”
“As the popularity and accessibility of cryptocurrency has grown, so has the need for us to update our state’s financial disclosure requirements,” said Assemblymember Anna R. Kelles. “These disclosures are essential to ensuring that New Yorkers are able to know and trust the financial interests of public officials.”
“It is absolutely critical that our state laws help instill confidence in state government and foster trust between the public and its government,” said Assemblymember Steven Raga. “My legislation will ensure that copyright protections cannot be used to deny individuals access to public information or records.”
Leases of private properties to state government entities are abundant throughout New York and often highly sought after. Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) are created to conduct business while also protecting the individuals involved in the companies. Legislation included in today’s package would require an LLC entering into a lease with the state to disclose the names and residential address of its members, managers or other authorized individuals (A.1628, McDonald).
The Assembly’s Sunshine Week package also includes legislation that would close the loophole on cryptocurrency assets on the state’s annual financial disclosure statement and add transparency regarding individuals’ interests in the digital financial property (A.2873-A, Kelles).
While federal law prohibits copyright protection for any work of the U.S. government, a loophole currently exists that allows New York State and its local governments and agencies to seek copyright protection on work that was commissioned as a fundamental duty of government. Legislation passed by the Assembly today would waive the ability of state agencies to claim copyright protection on records, except where the record reflects artistic creation, scientific or academic research, or if the agency intends to distribute the record to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership (A.4453, Raga).
Another bill passed in the package would require state agencies to post public documents, such as annual reports and studies, on their websites (A. 4591-A, McDonald). By making documents available in a digital format, this legislation would make public documents more accessible and help reduce waste.