Assemblywoman Paulin Introduces Legislation to Improve Transparency at Open Meetings

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin announced today that she is introducing important reform legislation that will increase transparency at public meetings. The bill requires that records scheduled to be discussed at a public meeting be made available to the public – both at the meeting and online whenever practicable.

Records are often unavailable at open meetings, making it difficult or impossible for the public to follow the discussion. This legislation will ensure that members of the press and general public will have access to these records.

“If you don’t have access to a report, you can’t know what is being discussed,” said Assemblywoman Paulin, who noted that as former president of the Scarsdale and Westchester League of Women Voters, reports were often needed at meetings.

“By making these records available, we will help foster a culture of openness and transparency at a time when reform is desperately needed,” said Paulin.

The bill would require the agency holding the meeting to post the report to their website at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. It also requires the agency to provide hard copies of the report at the actual meeting. Advocates say that this legislation will make the open meetings law more meaningful for thousands of people.

"The LWVoters of Westchester has always advocated for greater transparency,” said Adelaide DiGiorgi, President League of Women Voter of Westchester, “Our Westchester County government has made progress in providing schedules, meeting agendas, and records topical to those agendas available online and at the meetings themselves. Paulin's proposed legislation is another step in the right direction for New York State,” said DiGiorgi.

“Instead of wondering what the board in the front of the room is looking at during a discussion, the public will have the ability to obtain the documents that are being considered,” said Robert Freeman, Executive Director of NYS Committee on Open Government.

“We’ve heard from literally hundreds of people over the years who attend meetings and are frustrated when the board is referring to ‘Page 3, second paragraph,’ said Freeman. “The public has no idea what the content might be. Having the ability to follow the deliberations of a government body will enable countless citizens to have an impact on the course of their government,” said Freeman.