TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, honoring retired Senator Byron M. Baer, cleared the Senate State Government Committee today and now heads to the full Senate for a vote. Bill S-1959, co-sponsored by Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, would rename the “Open Public Meetings Act” after Sen. Baer, who sponsored the groundbreaking law in the mid-1970’s.
“In his years of public service, Byron Baer helped secure many of the rights we take for granted today, one of them being the right to an open and transparent government,” said Sen. Codey. “I was honored to serve beside him in the Senate for so many years and witness his advocacy for civil rights and liberties. For his tireless efforts, this honor is well deserved.”
The bill would rename the act, the “Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act” for his instrumental role in promoting enhanced public access to state and local government decision-making. Often regarded as the “Father” of the Open Public Meetings Act, Sen. Baer fought to guarantee the public’s right to attend meetings of public bodies and receive adequate notice of these meetings. His efforts, in large part, were responsible for paving the way for the federal government and other states to follow suit.
“Senator Baer is a great man who served the people of New Jersey for many years. He fought for Government transparency and record accessibility through his ‘Open Public Meetings Act.’ Senator Baer, or ‘Mr. Sunshine Law,’ as he is affectionately called, believes that taxpayers have a right to know what goes on in government. Nearly 30 years later, Senator Baer’s bill is still working to protect that right, and it is only fitting that we rename such an important piece of legislation after the man who’s vision made it all possible,” Senator Weinberg said.