After vetoing a similar bill last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved legislation late Wednesday that will allow for the online publication of state parole board decisions.
The documents must be published on a "searchable, publicly accessible website" within 60 days of the parole board's decision. The website will include a word searchable database and a cumulative subject matter index of appeal decisions, according to the bill's text.
Print editions of the subject matter index will be published annually and distributed to state correctional facility libraries.
Any confidential information in the documents that may not be released due to federal and state laws will be redacted.
Supporters of the bill explained that several state agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Taxation and Finance, publish administrative appeal decisions online.
The state parole board publishes little information about its appeal decisions online. There is a parolee lookup database available on the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision's website. But decisions aren't available online.
The legislation sponsored by Assemblyman David Weprin, who chairs the chamber's Correction committee, and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery received bipartisan support. The state Senate passed the bill by a 63-0 vote. The measure passed by a 135-0 vote in the Assembly.
Cuomo's stance on the bill changed because of a correction made by the sponsors. The measure he vetoed last year would have taken effect 30 days after becoming law. Cuomo called that time frame "not attainable."
Montgomery and Weprin changed the effective date to one year to allow for the construction of the database and to ensure there is funding in the budget for the publication of parole board decisions.
While Cuomo signed the bill, he said it "did not address the remaining technical and administrative hurdles that would have continued to delay implementation." No specifics about those issues were provided in the governor's message.
He added that an agreement has been reached with the state Legislature to address the remaining concerns in the upcoming legislative session.