The Open Meetings Law was recently amended to permit public bodies to use videoconferencing to conduct open meetings under “extraordinary circumstances” without there being a declared state disaster emergency in effect. Public bodies seeking to use remote attendance must adopt a local law or ordinance to do so. If they do not, they must continue to conduct all meetings in person as was done before the Covid-19 pandemic. The new law is found at Public Officers Law Section 103-a. This law will expire on July 1, 2024, unless extended.
To implement videoconferencing, the public body must adopt a local law or resolution after holding a public hearing. Among other things, a definition of “extraordinary circumstances” must be adopted which can include “disability, illness, caregiving responsibilities or other significant or unexpected factor.”
A member of a public body appearing remotely must do so from a location which is also open to the public. That location must be identified in the notice of meeting. A member participating from a location that is not public will not be counted towards a quorum.
The law contains a number of other details about technology, notices, and more.
- Written procedures governing attendance by both the public and members of the public body must be adopted and posted on the official website of the public body
- Members of the public body are still required to physically attend meetings unless there are “extraordinary circumstances” preventing such attendance
- Members attending remotely must be heard, seen, and identified while the meeting is being conducted
- Public notices of meetings must indicate that videoconferencing is to be used and include directions as to how the public can view or participate in the meeting
- Technology used must permit access by persons with disabilities
- Minutes of the meeting must identify those members participating remotely and must be made available to the public
- Meetings with remote participation must be recorded and the recordings must be posted on the website within 5 business days and remain there for 5 years
Please contact us to learn more about videoconferencing for public meetings.
This is not intended to be legal advise. You should contact your attorney to discuss your specific situation.