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Ain’t No Sunshine: New Bill Would Make Freedom of Info Requests More Expensive

March 9, 2018 By Staff
Ain’t No Sunshine: New Bill Would Make Freedom of Info Requests More Expensive

A new bill, that received a public hearing last month, would charge a person or entity $125 for a second appeal on Freedom of Information (FOI) Act denials.

A new bill working through the legislature would make it more difficult and expensive for citizens or entities to make Freedom of Information (FOI) Act requests in Connecticut. The bill, if passed, could effectively put the activity of public officials further out of reach of the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

The Darien Times covered the bill in an article on Wednesday:

A new state House bill could change the current Freedom of Information process for those seeking access to public records from government agencies.

…Currently, the FOI act allows any individual to appeal the denial of his or her right to inspect or copy records or attend a public meeting. The new language in the bill allows the commission to charge someone filing an appeal for the second time in a calendar year $125 for that appeal.

The bill would also permit a public agency to “petition the [Freedom of Information] commission for ‘relief’ if it deems a requester is vexatious.” “Vexatious,” in other words, means an entity that makes many requests.

The bill’s text is here.

Some people testified in favor of the bill. Comptroller Kevin Lembo (D-Conn.), though, called the $125 fee “exorbitant.” The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) said it supports the part of the bill dealing with “vexatious” requesters, but “does not support” the $125 fee.

The bill may receive a committee vote soon, now that it has received a public hearing.