New York State public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Law must now post on their website, or provide upon request, “at least 24 hours” prior to any public meetings, any documents that will be discussed or considered during those public meetings.
Under Chapter 481 of the Law of 2021, language allowing documents to be released for the first time “at” a public meeting has been stricken. Although the Law still retains language that states that documents are to be provided “to the extent practicable,” Chapter 481 strikes the phrase “as determined by the agency or department.” This removes a barrier to legal challenges to the discretion of public bodies in determining what is “practicable.”
This provision becomes effective November 18, 2021, for state and local governments and their departments, agencies, authorities, and other public bodies. It includes, but is not limited to, agendas, legislation, resolutions, reports, applications, statements, drawings, maps, and photos. Governor Hochul, who has committed to prioritize state transparency, signed Chapter 481 into law on October 19, 2021.
Ballard Spahr advises governmental entities throughout the State of New York. If you wish to discuss the implications of Chapter 481 further, please reach out to one of our New York attorneys.