Legislature Passes Bill That Would Permit Virtual Church Board Meetings

On May 27, 2020, the Senate and the Assembly each passed Bill S.8412-Benjamin/A.10498-Paulin. If signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, this bill will allow business corporations, not-for-profit corporations, and some religious corporations to conduct certain types of business meetings virtually through audio-visual technologies so long as Gov. Cuomo’s declaration of a state disaster emergency relating to COVID-19 remains in effect.

Section Five of the bill provides that if the board of trustees of a church or other religious corporation is authorized to set the location of trustee meetings or corporate meetings, that board of trustees may—as long as the current state emergency declaration is in effect—choose to hold such meetings electronically. The bill would expire on December 31, 2021. Its provisions regarding churches would not apply to other state disaster emergencies, but only to the current emergency arising out of the coronavirus pandemic.

State approval is required for certain business transactions that churches and other non-profits may engage in, such as the sale of real estate property. This common-sense legislation would facilitate the meeting process for church boards of trustees that may not otherwise be able to hold meetings at this time. It would help those boards continue conducting business in a manner compliant with state law. New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms supports this bill and urges urged Gov. Cuomo to sign it. [Update] The bill was signed into law on June 17, 2020.