NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A1228A
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public officers law, in relation to making certain
documents available for open meetings
To make documents to be discussed at open meetings available to the
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends the public officers law to require documents to be
discussed at open meetings be made available upon request or posted on
the public body's website at least 24 hours prior to such open meeting.
Section 2 provides the effective date.
The Open Meetings Law is intended to empower the public through the
availability and accessibility of meetings of public bodies. In an
effort to provide the public with useful information, section 103 of the
law also requires agencies to post and make available any documents
scheduled to be discussed prior to-such meetings.
However, section 103 of the Open Meetings Law requires agencies to make
any documents to be discussed at an upcoming open meeting available to
the public, "to the extent practicable." This vague phrase has created
loopholes and a way for agencies to bypass this requirement. In an anal-
ysis of 41 local governments conducted by the New York Coalition for
Open Government, 15 percent do not post meeting documents.
COVID-19 has made it apparent that there is technology readily available
for agencies to use in an effort to be more transparent. Meetings are
only taking place virtually and individuals are at an immense disadvan-
tage because there is no in-person opportunity to request a hard copy of
any documents at the meeting. Therefore, it is even more important that
agencies utilize the technology available to post documents online where
the public can effectively access them.
This bill would add language to section 103 of the public officers law
to require open meeting documents be available upon request or posted to
the public body's website at least 24 hours prior to the open meeting at
which such documents will be discussed. This bill would equip the public
with more information so they can understand the actions and decisions
of public bodies and hold authorities accountable.
A.10983-A, 2020, referred to governmental operations
This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have
become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK
2021-2022 Regular Sessions
January 7, 2021
Introduced by M. of A. PAULIN, GALLAGHER, SEAWRIGHT, JACKSON, GALEF --
read once and referred to the Committee on Governmental Operations --
committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and
recommitted to said committee
AN ACT to amend the public officers law, in relation to making certain
documents available for open meetings
The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assem-bly, do enact as follows:
1 Section 1. Subdivision (e) of section 103 of the public officers law,
2 as added by chapter 603 of the laws of 2011, is amended to read as
4 (e) Agency records available to the public pursuant to article six of
5 this chapter, as well as any proposed resolution, law, rule, regulation,
6 policy or any amendment thereto, that is scheduled to be the subject of
7 discussion by a public body during an open meeting shall be made avail-
8 able, upon request therefor, to the extent practicable [as determined by
9 the agency or the department,] at least twenty-four hours prior to [or
10 at] the meeting during which the records will be discussed. Copies of
11 such records may be made available for a reasonable fee, determined in
12 the same manner as provided therefor in article six of this chapter. If
13 the agency in which a public body functions maintains a regularly and
14 routinely updated website and utilizes a high speed internet connection,
15 such records shall be posted on the website to the extent practicable
16 [as determined by the agency or the department,] at least twenty-four
17 hours prior to the meeting. An agency may, but shall not be required to,
18 expend additional moneys to implement the provisions of this subdivi-
20 § 2. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall
21 have become a law.
EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
 is old law to be omitted.