NYLPI Co-Signs Letter Urging NY State Assembly to Webcast Public Meetings

Access-A-Ride, Access-a-Ride Reform Group, Disability Justice, Health Justice, News

Photo: a hand touches the keypad of a laptop. On the laptop screen is lots of little squares of people on webcam - a webcast meeting.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Heastie, Senate Minority Leader Ortt, and Assembly Minority Leader Barclay:

We write to urge you to promptly pass new rules to ensure that all of your public meetings are webcast.

Due to changes in the Open Meetings Law (OML) approved by the Legislature in April, if the Senate and Assembly intend to use videoconferencing to allow your members to participate remotely in public meetings, you must adopt a one-time joint resolution after a public hearing to authorize videoconferencing.¹

¹ See the Committee on Open Government’s sample resolution and explanation of the Open Meetings Law requirements.

Legislators may participate remotely in committee meetings, floor proceedings, or public hearings, provided that a quorum of members is present in person. Under the new OML requirements, if members of the public body participate in meetings remotely, the public must also be able to view and/or participate with videoconferencing.

As you consider adopting this resolution, we also ask you to adopt the following changes, either in a resolution authorizing videoconferencing, or the Joint Rules of each house:

  1. Webcast all of the Senate and Assembly’s committee meetings, and make archived videos and transcripts available online. Implementing videoconferencing technology for members’ use will facilitate webcasting meetings.
  2. Allow the public to participate in public hearings through videoconferencing, using both internet and phone options to accommodate different levels of technology literacy and internet access.
  3. Require that American Sign Language (ASL) and Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) interpretation are available for all webcasts of meetings where public comment is taken, such as legislative hearings, without requiring a specific request, to ensure full accessibility for Deaf New Yorkers.

Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely,

John Kaehny
Executive Director Reinvent Albany

Lawrence Norden
Senior Director, Elections and Government Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law

Joseph G. Rappaport
Executive Director, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID)

Sharon McLennon Wier, Ph.D., MSEd., CRC, LMHC
Executive Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY

Betsy Gotbaum
Executive Director, Citizens Union

Susan Lerner
Executive Director, Common Cause/NY

Laura Ladd Bierman
Executive Director, League of Women Voters of New York State

Alex Thompson, J.D.
Director of Advocacy, New York Association on Independent Living

Edward Murray
Chair, New York City Bar Association Committee on Government Ethics and State Affairs

Justin Harrison
Senior Policy Counsel, New York Civil Liberties Union

Paul Wolf
President, New York Coalition for Open Government

Ruth Lowenkron, Esq.
Director, Disability Justice Program, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Blair Horner
Executive Director, New York Public Interest Research Group

Douglas J. Usiak
Executive Director, Western New York Independent Living, Inc.


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