State extends remote meetings until pandemic ends
Kate Lisa is reporting for Johnson Newspaper Corp. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Fri., Jan. 14, signed a bill into law that allows government bodies in New York to continue to hold meetings and other public business remotely until the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Lawmakers in September voted to temporarily amend the Open Meetings Law and permit public bodies to hold municipal meetings via telephone or video conference through January 15. State Committee on Open Government Executive Director Shoshanah Bewlay said she had expected the governor to sign the extension. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Gaughran, will extend the previous Open Meetings Law modifications and permit any public body to hold meetings remotely without in-person access as long as the audio or video is recorded and released to the public. The bill allows remote public meetings to continue until the governor terminates the COVID-19 state of emergency with notification to the Legislature by the state Health Department commissioner. Leaders with the Assembly Democrats did not respond to requests for comment about the measure or remote public meetings. State Coalition for Open Government President Paul Wolf is disappointed, he said, because the bill does not mandate meeting recordings be posted online for the public. The bill mandates the recordings be made available to the public, but not how. The provision also does not require public comment sessions to be held at municipal meetings. “That has been a real problem during virtual meetings,” Wolf said. “...It’s disappointing. We’ve expressed these concerns months ago and no effort has been done." Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.