FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 19, 2014
Assembly Passes Sunshine Week Legislation to Increase Public Access and Promote Greater Government Accountability
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Governmental Operations Committee Chair Steven Englebright, announced the approval of the Assembly's Sunshine Week legislative package to strengthen the state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
"A government that is truly 'of the people' must, by definition, be open and transparent," said Silver. "These laws give the public a necessary window into the operation of our state and foster confidence in our government."
"The approval of this legislative package advances the Assembly's strong and ongoing commitment to a more open and transparent government," said Englebright. "Instituting these measures will better serve New Yorkers. This reinforces their trust in government by strengthening the state's Freedom of Information Law to make it easier for the public to access more government documents."
The Assembly's Sunshine Week agenda includes bills that would:
- increase consumer awareness by requiring the Department of Agriculture and Markets to post food safety violations by food stores,
processors and manufactures on a State website (A.8220, Silver);
- limit the time a state agency would have to file an appeal to a court judgment, requiring the agency to disclose the information requested
under FOIL (A.5306, Buchwald);
- prevent categorically denying FOIL requests and require a specific justification for denial of access to records under FOIL. The bill also would
require that files that are held by law enforcement agencies or that are related to ongoing litigation are accessible so long as their disclosure
does not interfere with an investigation or a proceeding and the release of the records has been approved by the presiding judge
(A.5170, Englebright); and
- discourage government officials from using copyright protections to deny the disclosure of public information except when the information
requested reflects such areas as artistic creation or scientific and academic research. The bill also would ensure that unreasonable claims of
copyright violations are not used to deter a citizen from gaining access to public records (A.1700, Galef).
In addition, the package includes a bill that would require the disclosure, in response to a FOIL request, of the name of a retiree of the New York
State Public Employee's Retirement System but not the names of their beneficiaries