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New York advocates urge permanent hybrid model for Open Meetings Law

In New York, a coalition of transparency, disability, and good government groups is advocating for permanent changes to the state’s open meetings law, which are set to expire in 2024. The proposed modifications aim to integrate a hybrid model combining both in-person and virtual participation, particularly for public meetings.

This initiative, led by groups like Reinvent Albany, seeks to enhance transparency and public engagement in government decision-making. Policy experts emphasized the importance of balancing remote access for individuals with disabilities and those unable to attend in person with the need for face-to-face accountability and media presence.

The advocates’ recommendations include free, unrestricted remote access to public meetings, options for real-time public comments, and the presence of a quorum of elected officials at in-person meetings.

The proposal also addresses the need for accessible meeting locations and the use of technology that complies with federal accessibility guidelines. It also suggests amending the law’s language to close loopholes while accommodating remote participation by public body members with disabilities.

As the law’s expiration date approaches in July 2024, the governor and the Legislature have the upcoming session to deliberate on these critical changes.