Assembly Passes Sunshine Week Government Reform Package

Legislation will increase state government openness, accountability
March 27, 2008

Glen Cove – Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine announced that the Assembly recognized Sunshine Week by passing a series of bills to increase government transparency and ensure compliance with Freedom of Information laws. The legislation coincides with the third annual Sunshine Week, March 17-23.

“The Assembly has consistently pursued efforts to make government more open, accountable and responsive to the needs of New Yorkers,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “This legislative package builds on that commitment.”

The Assembly’s Sunshine Week legislative package includes bills to:

  • require the Committee on Open Government to provide guidance to agencies on the development and maintenance of up-to-date, FOIL-able information (A.3403);
  • provide that if a public body has the ability, it must post notices of the place and time of public meetings on its Web site (A.4053);
  • prevent state agencies from claiming copyright protection for information that is required to be public by law (A.5472);
  • strengthen the Open Meetings Law by providing two ways to invalidate an action when any portion of a meeting is closed in violation of the law (A.5809);
  • make it possible for costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to be awarded to those who successfully challenge an open meetings law violation (A.1033);
  • allow any meeting of a public body to be recorded, broadcast and photographed, as long as it’s done in a way that is not disruptive to the meeting (A.1111); and
  • require that subject-matter lists of records maintained by state agencies also be posted online (A.1975).

Last year, the Assembly helped pass a law strengthening compliance with the Freedom of Information Law by requiring each state agency that maintains a Web site to post information related to FOIL and the Personal Privacy Protection Law on its Web site (Ch. 102 of 2007). The Assembly also backed comprehensive ethics reform curtailing gifts from lobbyists to legislators and creating a comprehensive watchdog agency to ensure the integrity of state government (Ch. 14 of 2007).

“We are working in the Assembly to advance additional measures to strengthen the public’s right to know and improve government transparency,” Assemblyman Lavine said. “Sunshine Week is a helpful reminder that we need to constantly push for better laws that make governmental information as accessible to the public as possible.”