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Committee says Senate cellphone ban violates Open Meetings Law

Jan 10, 2017 6:00 am

Casey Seiler is reporting at Capitol Confidential the executive director of the state Committee on Open Government has delivered an expedited advisory opinion on the the state Senate’s new rule barring the use of cellphones as recording devices within the chamber and public galleries without the permission of the Senate secretary violates the state's Open Meeting Law. Robert Freeman has concluded the rule is clearly contrary to the law. The letter backs up comments Freeman made to journalists last week following the adoption of the cellphone ban. Freeman wrote that while the Senate may ban the use of cellphones in the chamber to conduct telephonic communication, “when the cellular telephone is used to record public proceedings silently and unobtrusively, as in the case of its use in the Senate gallery," that prohibition would run contrary to the statute. Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, said he was eager to hear the Senate leadership’s response to the advisory opinion. He noted that Republicans during the debate on the rule last week could not cite a single example of cellphone recording disrupting the business of the chamber. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Hoylman said. Read Freeman's letter, and the full story at Capitol Confidential.

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