Yesterday, 6/29/2017, bills S1045 and S1046 — the OPMA and OPRA amendments, respectively — passed out of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. NJFOG was there to support the bills, which are greatly improved from prior versions.
For example, the Meetings Act amendment (S1045) includes a stronger agenda notice requirement that will help to limit last minute additions, brings certain quasi-governmental agencies under the Act, provides better access to supplementary documents such as attachments and appendices referenced in other agenda materials, and requires that all public meetings have a public comment period, among other provisions and clarifications. The current version of S1045 also includes a fee-shifting provision that would allow someone who brings a Meetings Act enforcement action to recover his/her costs if successful. In her address to the Senate Committee prior to the vote, bill sponsor Senator Loretta Weinberg addressed opponents of the fee-shifting provision by saying that if they just follow the law, they needn’t worry about the cost of lawsuits.
While greatly improved in their current form, the bills represent a balancing of interests between public advocacy organizations and governmental groups.
The current versions of the bills aren’t yet available on the Legislature’s website as of the date of this post. Check back in a few days. Things are a bit backlogged in Trenton right now because yesterday’s Senate and Assembly sessions were held over and are still going on today.
UPDATE (7/3/2017): The revised bills (as of 6/29/2017) are now available on the Legislature’s website. Below are direct links to PDF versions on that site.
S1045 (OPMA amendment)
S1046 (OPRA amendment)