The General Assembly held a public hearing last week on Raised Bill 6750, An Act Expanding The Requirement For Disclosure Of Arrest Records During A Pending Prosecution Under The Freedom Of Information Act. The bill seeks to overturn a Connecticut Supreme Court decision last year, Comm’r of Public Safety v. FOIC, which set aside the Freedom of Information Commission’s longstanding (20 years!) interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act concerning the release of arrest records. The Supreme Court decision was bad for government transparency, the proposed bill is good and the arguments against the bill are weak. The legislature should pass the bill and the governor should sign it.
Connecticut, we have a problem.
The media and commentators have consumed much digital ink over the past year discussing the General Assembly’s repeated efforts to undermine and curtail the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). But that is not the problem of which I speak, although that is a big problem. The even bigger problem is that too many state and municipal agencies have nothing but contempt for the FOIA and the body that enforces it, the Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC”). Even when the law regarding the disclosure of certain types of documents is clear, unambiguous and long-settled, too many state and local agencies simply refuse to produce documents that they are bound by law to disclose.