The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, Westchester County, would require that records to be discussed at a meeting be posted online or made available to the public prior to the meeting.
The state Committee On Open Government has argued that local government boards don’t often provide the records prior to the meetings, making it difficult for the public to analyze the information.
The Assembly passed the bill today, 99-15.
Interestingly, Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro, R-Tivoli, Dutchess County, was raising concerns about the bill on the Assembly floor, questioning whether the bill would lead to more confusion on the local level and potentially lead to lawsuits.
Why is that interesting? Because Molinaro is the Republican nominee for Dutchess County executive this year and may have to contend with the bill if it becomes law and if he is elected. Local government organizations all had opposed previous versions of the bill.
“It leaves open the possibility of litigation and possibly a court deciding what is or is not the intent of the legislation,” Molinaro said.
Paulin said the “intent is to do the best we can” to make records more public.
Updated: Molinaro said he voted for the bill, despite his questions about it, and said he has voted for it every time it has come up.
“It’s one of those where you sort of balance the need for public access and accountability against the issue of unfunded mandates,” he said.
The goal, according to the bill, is to actually make it easier for local governments because they would face fewer Freedom of Information requests and fewer legal challenges if the records were made more readily available, which could save taxpayer money.
Sen. Stephen Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, is sponsoring the measure in the Senate.