RAQs: Recently Asked Questions

Topic: Posting recorded meetings under Open Meetings Law - 04/15/2022
With recent updates to the OML in New York state, there is now a requirement both to stream and to...
Posted: Friday, April 15, 2022 Permalink


With recent updates to the OML in New York state, there is now a requirement both to stream and to make recordings of sessions available via website as described in 103(f).[1] However, the last two sentences of 103(f) seem to limit this requirement only to certain public bodies.

We are trying to understand whether or not this applies to a municipal library board's meetings or not. Certainly we do not have any members appointed by the board, and even if you go up to being chartered by the Board of Regents, Regents are elected by the legislature, so hard to see any applicability there.

Do you see any requirement in the open meetings law for library boards to have video recordings of their meetings posted publicly via the internet? Text of 103(f) below, or online here: https://opengovernment.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/02/oml-text-02282022.pdf

(f) Open meetings of an agency or authority shall be, to the extent practicable and within available funds, broadcast to the public and maintained as records of the agency or authority. If the agency or authority maintains a website and utilizes a high speed internet connection, such open meeting shall be, to the extent practicable and within available funds, streamed on such website in real-time, and posted on such website within and for a reasonable time
after the meeting. For the purposes of this subdivision, the term “agency” shall mean only a state department, board, bureau, division, council or office and any public corporation the majority of whose members are appointed by the governor. For purposes of this subdivision, the term “authority” shall mean a public authority or public benefit corporation created by or existing under any state law, at least one of whose members is appointed by the governor
(including any subsidiaries of such public authority or public benefit corporation), other than an interstate or international authority or public benefit corporation.
[emphasis added]

[1] Editor footnote:  the question slightly mis-states the Open Meeting Law's most recent requirements; we'll address this in the answer.



Before we dive into the answer, I have to say two things.

First, just a reminder: the reason any chartered library--even an association library--has to follow the State's "Open Meetings Law" and allow public access to trustee meetings, is because Section 260-a of the Education Law requires it.[1]

Second: the timing of this question made it a real pain in the [law].   Here's why:

My first draft answer was written on March 29, 2022.

While the draft was in review, I realized there was a change to the law that I had not factored in.[2]  So I pulled back the draft to revise.

While I was revising, the law was changed again![3]

Image is a screenshot of a memorandum. It reads: To Whom It May Concern, From Shoshanah Bewlay, Executive Director, Committee on Open Government. Re: Amendments to the Open Meetings Law Relating to Videoconferencing. Dated April 11 2022. On April 9, 2022, Governor Hochul signed Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2022 relating to the New York State budget for the 2022-2023 state fiscal year. See Senate Bill 8006-C/Assembly Bill 9006-C. Included in the bill is Part WW, an amendment to the Open Meetings Law to make permanent (until July 1, 2024) the expanded use of videoconferencing by public bodies to conduct open meetings, in very limited circumstances, regardless of a declaration of emergency. Our staff is currently reviewing the details of the bill and will provide written guidance on our website regarding its requirements as soon as possible. Until then, however, it is important to note that the law permits public bodies to continue to hold remote meetings in the same manner as described in Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2022 for a period of 60 days after its effective date, or until June 8, 2022.

This required yet another re-write.

So now, as of April 13, 2022--at the risk of Governor Hochul punking me with yet another change to the law--here is the short answer to this question:

103-e does NOT require a library board to record and post their meetings; that is limited to authorities and agencies with at least one member appointed by the governor.[4]

However, under OML 103(c), and per a current temporary add-on to the law,[5] trustee meetings must continue to be broadcast/recorded/transcribed, UNLESS the meeting is ONLY taking place in person, AND the community can physically access each site of the meeting.[6]

That said, a library board is certainly welcome to broadcast and archive its in-person meetings, and (critically) a board cannot bar attendees from streaming or otherwise broadcasting in-person (or streamed) board meetings, either.  Further, if capacity or public health concerns mean setting up to allow remote attendance ensures access to the meeting, there is strong incentive to use the (right now) temporary ability to meet via broadcast/record/transcribe.

So, what does this latest (April 9, 2022) change mean?

Right now,[7] if a board meeting is not being broadcast/recorded/transcribed, any remote location from which a board member is attending the meeting is a de facto additional site of the meeting...so the location must be disclosed in the notice for the meeting and the public must be able to attend the meeting at that remote site.

But it looks like this latest change (April 9, 2022) will somewhat change that. So expect (much) more commentary on this...both from me, and others.[8]

Now, for those of you scratching your heads and saying "Wait a minute, you mentioned all these changes in 2022, I KNOW they changed the law back in November 2021!"  --You're right, they did.  That change amended the OML to require that documents to be viewed by the trustees at the meeting be made available (and if possible, posted on the library's web page) at least 24 hours before that meeting.[9]

Thank you to the member for a thoughtful question.  As to the legislature and the Governor[10]....we see where all of this is going (a more accessible and greener OML), but a little dinner and dancing might be nice before you change the law again!

Most recent OML changes (as of April 13, 2022).

Section 1.  Subdivision (c) of section 103 of the public officers law,

    20  as  added  by  chapter  289  of  the laws of 2000, is amended to read as

    21  follows:

    22    (c) A public body [that uses videoconferencing to  conduct  its  meet-

    23  ings]  shall provide an opportunity for the public to attend, listen and

    24  observe [at any site] meetings in at  least  one  physical  location  at

    25  which a member participates.

    26    §  2. The public officers law is amended by adding a new section 103-a

    27  to read as follows:

    28    § 103-a. Videoconferencing by public bodies.  1.  For the purposes  of

    29  this  section,  "local  public  body" shall mean a public corporation as

    30  defined in section sixty-six of the general construction  law,  a  poli-

    31  tical  subdivision  as  defined  in  section  one hundred of the general

    32  municipal law or a committee or subcommittee or other  similar  body  of

    33  such  entity,  or  any entity for which a quorum is required in order to

    34  conduct public business and which  consists  of  two  or  more  members,

    35  performing  a  governmental  function  for  an  entity  limited  in  the

    36  execution of its official functions to a portion only of the state, or a

    37  political subdivision of the state, or for an agency or department ther-

    38  eof.   For the purposes of this section,  a  public  body  shall  be  as

    39  defined in subdivision two of section one hundred two of this article.

    40    2.  A  public  body  may,  in its discretion, use videoconferencing to

    41  conduct its meetings  pursuant  to  the  requirements  of  this  article

    42  provided  that  a  minimum  number of members are present to fulfill the

    43  public body's quorum  requirement  in  the  same  physical  location  or

    44  locations  where  the  public  can attend and the following criteria are

    45  met:

    46    (a) the governing board of a county, city, town or village has adopted

    47  a local law, or a public body has adopted a resolution,  or  the  senate

    48  and  assembly  have adopted a joint resolution, following a public hear-

    49  ing, authorizing the use of videoconferencing:

    50    (i) for itself and its committees or subcommittees; or,

    51    (ii) specifying that each committee or subcommittee may make  its  own

    52  determination;

    53    (iii)  provided  however,  each community board in a city with a popu-

    54  lation of one million or more shall make its own determination;

        S. 8006--C                         248                        A. 9006--C


     1    (b) the public  body  has  established  written  procedures  governing

     2  member  and  public  attendance  consistent  with this section, and such

     3  written procedures shall be conspicuously posted on the  public  website

     4  of the public body;

     5    (c) members of the public body shall be physically present at any such

     6  meeting  unless  such  member  is unable to be physically present at any

     7  such meeting location due to extraordinary circumstances, as  set  forth

     8  in  the resolution and written procedures adopted pursuant to paragraphs

     9  (a) and (b) of this subdivision, including disability, illness, caregiv-

    10  ing responsibilities, or any other significant or unexpected  factor  or

    11  event which precludes the member's physical attendance at such meeting;

    12    (d)  except  in  the  case of executive sessions conducted pursuant to

    13  section one hundred five of this article, the public body  shall  ensure

    14  that members of the public body can be heard, seen and identified, while

    15  the  meeting  is  being  conducted,  including  but  not  limited to any

    16  motions, proposals, resolutions, and any other matter formally discussed

    17  or voted upon;

    18    (e) the minutes of  the  meetings  involving  videoconferencing  shall

    19  include which, if any, members participated remotely and shall be avail-

    20  able to the public pursuant to section one hundred six of this article;

    21    (f) if  videoconferencing  is  used  to  conduct a meeting, the public

    22  notice for the meeting shall inform the  public  that  videoconferencing

    23  will be used, where the public can view and/or participate in such meet-

    24  ing,  where  required documents and records will be posted or available,

    25  and identify the physical location for the meeting where the public  can

    26  attend;

    27    (g)  the  public  body shall provide that each meeting conducted using

    28  videoconferencing shall be recorded and such recordings posted or linked

    29  on the public website of the  public  body  within  five  business  days

    30  following  the  meeting,  and shall remain so available for a minimum of

    31  five  years  thereafter.  Such  recordings  shall  be  transcribed  upon

    32  request;

    33    (h) if videoconferencing is used to conduct a meeting, the public body

    34  shall  provide  the  opportunity  for members of the public to view such

    35  meeting via video, and to participate in proceedings via videoconference

    36  in real time where public comment or  participation  is  authorized  and

    37  shall  ensure  that videoconferencing authorizes the same public partic-

    38  ipation or testimony as in person participation or testimony; and

    39    (i) a local public  body  electing  to  utilize  videoconferencing  to

    40  conduct its meetings must maintain an official website.

    41    3. The in person participation requirements of paragraph (c) of subdi-

    42  vision two of this section shall not apply during a state disaster emer-

    43  gency  declared  by the governor pursuant to section twenty-eight of the

    44  executive law, or a local state of emergency  proclaimed  by  the  chief

    45  executive  of  a county, city, village or town pursuant to section twen-

    46  ty-four of the executive law, if the public  body  determines  that  the

    47  circumstances  necessitating  the  emergency declaration would affect or

    48  impair the ability of the public body to hold an in person meeting.

    49    4. No later than January first, two thousand twenty-four, the  commit-

    50  tee  on  open government, created by paragraph (a) of subdivision one of

    51  section eighty-nine of this chapter, shall issue a report to the  gover-

    52  nor, the temporary president of the senate, the speaker of the assembly,

    53  the  chair  of  the  senate  standing committee on local government, the

    54  chair of the senate standing committee on investigations and  government

    55  operations,  the  chair  of  the  assembly  standing  committee on local

    56  governments, and the chair of the assembly standing committee on govern-

        S. 8006--C                         249                        A. 9006--C


     1  mental operations concerning the application and implementation of  such

     2  law and any further recommendations governing the use of videoconferenc-

     3  ing by public bodies to conduct meetings pursuant to this section.

     4    5.  Open  meetings  of  any public body that are broadcast or that use

     5  videoconferencing shall utilize technology to permit access  by  members

     6  of  the public with disabilities consistent with the 1990 Americans with

     7  Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended, and  corresponding  guidelines.  For

     8  the  purposes  of  this  section,  "disability"  shall  have the meaning

     9  defined in section two hundred ninety-two of the executive law.

    10    § 3. Notwithstanding the provisions of article 7 of the  public  offi-

    11  cers  law  to  the  contrary, for sixty days after the effective date of

    12  this act any public body shall be  authorized  to  meet  and  take  such

    13  action  authorized  by law without permitting in public-in-person access

    14  to meetings and authorize such meetings to be held remotely  by  confer-

    15  ence  call  or similar service, provided that the public has the ability

    16  to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded

    17  and later transcribed.

    18    § 4. This act shall take effect immediately and shall  expire  and  be

    19  deemed repealed July 1, 2024.


[1] This requirement comes with one modification: " ...notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision one of section ninety-nine of the public officers law, public notice of the time and place of a meeting scheduled at least two weeks prior thereto shall be given to the public and news media at least one week before such meeting."


[2] It happens.  This is why a multi-step review process is a valuable thing.  Many thanks to Rebecca Darling in Ballston for her input!

[3] This time, on April 9, 2022.   The complete notice I have pasted above is posted at https://opengovernment.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2022/04/oml-videoconferencing-amendments-041122.pdf.

[4] Ironically, all the fuss and changes did not change my original answer...just the context I was including.

[5] Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2022.

[6] The OML, before the pandemic, allowed members to attend via teleconference ONLY if their location became an additional site of the meeting, and the public could attend there.

[7] April 13, 2022.

[8] In fact, I'll be doing a training on this for NYLA on Tuesday May 17th, in Albany.  For more info, see https://www.nyla.org/spring-on-the-hill-an-in-person-nyla-advocacy-event/

[9] For more on this, see "Ask the Lawyer" https://www.wnylrc.org/ask-the-lawyer/raqs/238.

[10] The Governor is from my hometown.  She's a hero to many in Buffalo, so I say this with respectful frustration.


Tags: Board of Trustees, Broadcasting, Open Meetings Law, Transcription

The WNYLRC's "Ask the Lawyer" service is available to members of the Western New York Library Resources Council. It is not legal representation of individual members.