Authority for Fire Districts and other Public Bodies to Conduct Remote Meetings Restored by New Legislation

Early today, Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation (S.50001/A.40001) extending virtual access to public meetings under New York State's Open Meetings Law, which allows New Yorkers to virtually participate in local government meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation, which was initially implemented by Executive Order during last year's State of Emergency, allows state and local government meetings that are normally held in person to be held remotely instead, as long as the public has the ability to view or listen to the meeting and as long as the meeting is recorded and later transcribed. This statutory change will reduce the need for congregation at public meetings while the Delta variant is prevalent, while ensuring public business can continue.

The new law follows the process provided by executive orders during the COVID state of emergency that had expired on June 24th .

This bill permits but does not require public meetings to be conducted remotely.

This authority to override certain Open Meeting Law requirements expires on January 15, 2022. The following is the text of this aspect of the enactment:


Section 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of article 7 of the public officers law to the contrary, any state agency, department, corporation, office, authority, board, or commission, as well as any local public body, or public corporation as defined in  section  66  of  the  general construction law, or political subdivisions as defined in section 100 of the general municipal law, or a committee or subcommittee or other similar  body  of  such  entity,  shall  be authorized to meet and take such action authorized by law without permitting in public  in-person  access to  meetings  and authorize such meetings to be held remotely by conference call or similar service, provided that the public has the  ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and  later  transcribed.  "Local public body" shall mean any entity for which a quorum is required in order to conduct public business and which consists  of two or more members, performing a governmental function for an entity limited in the  execution  of  its  official  functions  to  a portion  only  of the state, or a political subdivision of the state, or for an agency or department thereof.

§ 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire and be deemed repealed January 15, 2022.

Source Link: