NY Open Conferences Legislation Amended Relating to Use of Video Conferencing

Please see the beneath from NYCOM. Accessible right here: https://www.nycom.org/photos/Open_Meetings_Law_2022_Amendments_-_New_Videoconference_Procedures.pdf

Overview
As a part of the 2022 Enacted State Price range,1 the NY Legislature amended the NYS Open Conferences Legislation to supply when and the way public our bodies could conduct conferences by way of videoconferencing expertise. Accordingly, the earlier videoconference authorization, which was enacted in 2000, has been repealed and changed with a brand new, considerably completely different videoconference provision. As well as, from April 9, 2022 by June 8, 2022, public our bodies could proceed to conduct conferences following the distant assembly process that was approved pursuant to Govt Order 202.1 and Chapter 1 of the Legal guidelines of 2022 in the course of the pandemic.

The NYS Open Conferences Legislation
The Open Conferences Legislation (OML), Article 7 of the Public Officers Legislation (§§ 100‐111), outlines primary necessities for conferences performed by public our bodies.

Public Officers Legislation 102(1) defines a “assembly” as “the official convening of a public physique for the aim of conducting public enterprise.” Any time a quorum of a public physique gathers for the aim of discussing public enterprise, the assembly should be open to the general public, whether or not or not the physique intends to take motion or vote on a specific challenge.2 Consequently, conferences embody “workshops, ” “work periods,” and “agenda periods.”3 Likelihood conferences or social gatherings should not lined by the OML since these should not official conferences. Nonetheless, public officers could not talk about public enterprise at likelihood conferences or social gatherings.4
Fundamental Necessities of the Open Conferences Legislation

There are 4 primary necessities of the New York State Open Conferences Legislation:

  • All conferences should be observed;
  • The general public should be allowed to attend and observe the conferences in particular person besides that portion of a
    assembly which is in government session;
  • Proposed native legal guidelines, guidelines, laws, resolutions, and insurance policies, and any file which is topic to
    disclosure below FOIL which is scheduled to be mentioned on the assembly should be made out there to the
    public to the extent practicable; and
  • The general public physique should make minutes of the assembly out there inside two weeks of the assembly and
    inside one week of the chief session.
    For extra data on the OML’s particular necessities, see the NYCOM Handbook for Village Officers,
    Chapter 6, and the NYCOM Handbook for Metropolis Officers, Chapter 4, in addition to the NYS Committee on Open
    Authorities web site at https://opengovernment.ny.gov.
    The OML’s New Videoconferencing Process
    As of April 9, 2022, the earlier videoconferencing provisions present in Public Officers Legislation 103(c) are eliminated, and public our bodies wishing to conduct conferences by way of videoconferencing should adjust to the brand new necessities of Public Officers Legislation 103‐a.
    Particularly, Public Officers Legislation 103‐a(2) authorizes public our bodies to conduct conferences utilizing videoconference expertise as long as a quorum of the general public physique is bodily current at a number of of the places the place the general public can even attend in particular person. This requirement might be glad, for instance, if three members of a 5‐member public physique are bodily current within the municipal corridor and the general public is allowed to attend at that location or if three members of a 5‐member public physique are taking part by way of videoconferencing however from three
    completely different places and the general public is allowed to by bodily current at every of these places.
    Moreover, the legislation requires public our bodies adjust to the next in an effort to conduct any assembly by way of videoconference: The native authorities should undertake a neighborhood legislation or a person public physique should undertake a decision
    authorizing the usage of videoconferencing
    a. For itself and its committees or subcommittees or
    b. Specifying that every committee or subcommittee could make its personal willpower. The general public physique should (a) undertake written procedures governing member and public attendance constant
    with Public Officers Legislation 103‐a and (b) conspicuously submit these written procedures on the general public
    physique’s web site. Members of the general public physique should be bodily current at one of many assembly places at which the
    public can attend in particular person except the member is unable to be bodily current attributable to extraordinary
    circumstances, as set forth within the public physique’s adopted assembly procedures, which embody incapacity,
    sickness, caregiving obligations, or every other vital or sudden issue or occasion which
    contains the member’s bodily attendance at such a gathering. Members of a public physique do not need a
    proper to attend conferences remotely however could take part remotely by way of videoconferencing solely on the
    discretion of the general public physique.
  • Besides within the case of government periods performed pursuant to Public Officers Legislation 105, the general public
    physique should be sure that members of the general public physique might be heard, seen, and recognized whereas the assembly
    is being performed, together with however not restricted to any motions, proposals, resolutions, and every other
    matter formally mentioned or voted upon.
  • The minutes of conferences involving videoconferencing should embody which, if any, members take part
    remotely and should be made out there to the general public pursuant to Public Officers Legislation 106.
  • The general public discover for the assembly should (i) inform the general public (a) that videoconferencing shall be used, (b)
    the place they will view and/or take part in such assembly, and (c) the place required paperwork and data
    shall be posted or out there, and (ii) determine the bodily location(s) the place members of the general public physique
    shall be taking part within the assembly and the place the general public can attend the assembly in particular person.
  • The general public physique should file every assembly that makes use of videoconferencing and such recordings should be
    posted or linked to on the general public physique’s web site inside 5 enterprise days of the assembly. The
    recordings should stay out there for at least 5 years thereafter, and recordings should be
    transcribed upon request.
  • The general public physique should present the chance for members of the general public to view the assembly by way of video.
    Moreover, at conferences the place public remark or participation is permitted, members of the general public
    should be capable to take part within the proceedings by way of videoconferencing in actual time. The general public physique should
    be sure that the videoconferencing offers the identical alternatives for public participation or testimony
    as in‐particular person participation or testimony.
  • An area public physique electing to make the most of videoconferencing to conduct its conferences should keep an
    official web site.
    If a public physique broadcasts its conferences or conducts its conferences by way of videoconference, it should use expertise that allows members of the general public with disabilities to entry the video in a constant method with the 1990 Individuals with Disabilities Act (ADA). Info on how conferences might be made accessible to with disabilities might be discovered on-line at http://www.section508.gov/create/accessible‐conferences/. As well as, native officers ought to seek the advice of with their municipal legal professional to make sure compliance with this requirement.
    In abstract, the Open Assembly Legislation’s new videoconference provisions enable a member of a public physique to take part in a gathering of a public physique with out permitting members of the general public to be bodily current on the location from which they’re taking part within the assembly if (a ) extraordinary circumstances exists similar to incapacity, sickness, caregiving obligations, or every other vital or sudden issue or occasion which incorporates the member’s bodily attendance at such assembly, and (b) at the very least a quorum of the general public physique are taking part within the assembly from a location or places at which members of the general public could bodily attend in particular person. Word that the general public discover for the assembly should inform the general public that videoconferencing shall be used on the assembly. As well as, Public Officers Legislation 103‐a continues to ban conferences from being performed utilizing solely teleconferencing applied sciences.
    Emergency Conferences
    Half WW of Chapter 56 of the Legal guidelines of 2022 additionally creates an emergency exception to the in particular person requirement related to videoconferencing conferences. Particularly, if (1) the Governor has declared a state of emergency or the native chief government has declared a neighborhood state of emergency pursuant to NYS Govt Legislation 24 and (2) the general public physique determines that the circumstances necessitating the emergency declaration would have an effect on or impair the power of the general public physique to carry an in particular person assembly, then the general public physique just isn’t required to carry an in particular person assembly.5
    Though not required by Public Officers Legislation 103‐a, NYCOM recommends that, when a public physique invokes this emergency exception and takes motion at a gathering with out permitting members of the
    public to be current, at its subsequent assembly the place the general public is allowed to attend, the general public physique ought to it
    acknowledge the earlier assembly and summarize any motion taken thereat. Furthermore, public our bodies should nonetheless produce minutes of such emergency conferences pursuant to the necessities of the Open Conferences Legislation. Lastly, native governments are strongly inspired to seek the advice of with their municipal legal professional earlier than holding an emergency assembly the place the general public just isn’t allowed to attend in particular person.
    Expiration of Videoconferencing and Emergency Conferences Provisions
    The videoconference and emergency assembly provisions of Half WW of Chapter 56 of the Legal guidelines of 2022, as described above, took impact on April 9, 2022, and can expire and be deemed repealed July 1, 2024.
    Non permanent Distant Assembly Authorization
    Lastly, Half WW authorizes public our bodies to proceed to conduct conferences following the procedures set forth in Chapter 1 of the Legal guidelines of 2022 by June 8, 2022. Particularly, any public physique could meet and take motion remotely by convention name or related service and with out allowing public‐in‐particular person entry to the assembly, supplied that the general public has the power to view or take heed to such proceedings and that such conferences are recorded and later transcribed.
    This language mirrors the language present in Governor Cuomo’s Govt Order 202.1, which suspended the in-person requirement of the NYS Open Conferences Legislation for a lot of the State’s declared COVID state of emergency.
    The legislation doesn’t point out by when the recordings should be transcribed. Native officers are inspired to have the conferences transcribed inside an inexpensive time frame. Furthermore, public our bodies should nonetheless put together assembly minutes inside two weeks of the assembly, and inside one week of an government session. The transcription requirement doesn’t obviate the duty to organize minutes
    in accordance with the necessities of the Open Conferences Legislation.
    The discover for distant conferences performed should clearly state the specifics of the assembly:
  • The title of the general public physique assembly;
  • The date and time of the assembly;
  • Whether or not the assembly is being performed in accordance with Half WW of Chapter 56 of the Legal guidelines of 2022;
  • The tactic that the general public physique shall be utilizing to conduct the assembly (eg, videoconferencing or
    teleconference);
  • How the general public can view or take heed to the assembly;
  • If a gathering shall be streamed reside over the web, the general public discover for the assembly shall inform the
    public of the web tackle of the web site streaming such assembly; and
  • If the assembly can have a public remark interval or if a public listening to is being performed, the observed
    ought to point out that people could submit feedback by way of e-mail or common mail, whether or not such written
    feedback should be acquired previous to the graduation of the assembly or whether or not the assembly/public
    listening to shall be held open for a selected variety of days for the receipt of such written feedback, and that
    the written feedback shall be made a part of the file.
    1 Half WW of Chapter 56 of the Legal guidelines of 2022
  • 2 Orange Co. Publications v. Metropolis of Newburgh, 60 AD2d 409 (2nd Dep’t. 1978), aff’d. 45 NY2d 947.
  • 3 NY St. comm. Open Gov’t. OML‐AO‐4506.
  • 4 Kissel v. D’Amato, 97 Misc.2nd 675 (Sup. Ct. Nassau Co. 1979), mod on different grounds, 72 AD2d 790 (2nd Dep’t. 1979).
  • 5 Public Officers Legislation 103