Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) announced that the Assembly passed a host of bills today that aim to increase government transparency and accountability. This legislation comes as the fifth annual nationwide ‘Sunshine Week” to stress the importance of government transparency.
“A more transparent and open government is integral part to a more accountable government. I feel an open dialogue between the public and elected officials is essential that is why as Cheektowaga Town Supervisor I initiated the public comment period at Town Board Meeting’s,” Assemblyman Gabryszak said.
The legislation passed:
- allows courts to overturn government decisions done in violation of open meetings laws and require public officials who disregard the law to attend compliance training sessions (A.10196);
- increases public awareness of government by clearly allowing the recording, broadcasting and photographing of government public meetings (A.10093);
- bans government agencies from claiming copyright protection whenever the materials don’t reflect artistic creation or scientific or academic research (A.5726-A);
- requires public meetings, if practicable, to be held in facilities sufficiently sized to accommodate the number of people who wish to attend (A.5873);
- shortens the time state agencies have to appeal judgments against them for Freedom of Information Law violations from four months to 30 days (A.6484); and
- authorizes state agencies to waive fees related to the reproduction of records requested by a member of the public (A.6371).
Sunshine Week is a national, non-partisan initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of transparent government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know how government operates.
“We have taken important steps over the last few years to bring more openness and accountability to state government,” Gabryszak said. “These measures passed today will build on those important efforts.”