The Feiner Report
Addressing All State Legislators from Westchester County, New York State Associations of Towns, New York State Conference of Mayors, New York State Association of Counties, and all Executive Directors.
GREENBURGH, NY — The recent fears and anxiety that many residents have about the coronavirus highlights the need for lawmakers to set an example when we have colds, the flu or any virus. We should not infect others during meetings. We need to be considerate of those sitting next to us, other officials and residents alike, who attend meetings to observe their government in action or to speak out on issues of concern to them. They do not want to get sick because an inconsiderate lawmaker showed up at such a meeting. We should stay home and not contaminate others. At the same time many lawmakers take our jobs seriously and we want to participate in the legislative processes.
I believe that the New York State Legislature should amend the Open Meetings Law to allow members of Town, Village Boards, Planning and Zoning Boards, and County Legislatures to participate in all meetings by Skype or videoconferencing. If we cast our vote at home and it takes place at an open public meeting that can be watched by the community (on TV) the vote should count.
I am enclosing a memo from the NYS Association of Towns that I have received indicating that the current law regarding teleconferencing votes is not entirely clear . The law should be rewritten and made explicitly clear. I also urge the state to provide State Senators and Assemblymembers the same opportunity to participate in legislative actions if / when New York State lawmakers are sick.