Open Meetings Law and Hybrid Government Meetings

The Open Meetings Law exists to ensure that the public can observe and participate in the decision-making of democratic government. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments, including New York City, have held open meetings and public hearings via video conference technology, first pursuant to Emergency Executive Order 202.1 and, after its expiration, pursuant to temporary legislation. This experiment demonstrated that New York City government agencies were generally able to hold such meetings using these now widely available technologies and that these technologies may make it easier for some members of the public to attend (e.g., those with disabilities, obligations of childcare, or who are unable to leave their place of work at the time of the open meeting). However, not everyone has access to the resources and know-how to attend open meetings via video conference, and the ability of some people to participate in real time by video conference may be circumscribed. For these reasons the City Bar encourages the adoption of legislation amending the Open Meetings Law to require such meetings to be held in a hybrid format (where the public may attend either in person or by video conference), to permit members of a governmental body holding such a meeting to attend via video conference, and to provide for financial and/or technological assistance to local governments as needed to implement such requirement.


2022-23 New York State Budget Recap: The final budget included a provision to permit open meetings to be conducted by video conference, in-person or both.