Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) announced legislation that would allow municipalities the ability to conduct hybrid meetings and hearings.
The legislation would allow a municipality to include remote participation if officials would like to. All board members would appear in person and the public could attend in person as well.
Using this option would be a boon for discourse, allowing for wider engagement in public spaces, Galef said. COVID-19 has shown the power of technology in bringing people together, she added.
“Our meetings have seen increased attendance through Zoom and other technologies,” Galef said. “With this increased engagement, it is important that we keep this option available to municipalities that choose to. Our public discourse is made more robust and inclusive through this legislation. We have proven that it can work, and it is important that we make adaptations to encourage public participation when we can.”
Municipalities may opt to use hybrid meetings but will not be obligated to do so, Galef said.
Remote meetings and video conferencing have taken off during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the state’s emergency declaration having ended last week, she said it is time to learn from the past year and incorporate increased access to public meetings.