March 16, 2016

Assembly Approves Sunshine Legislation to Provide Public With Greater Access and Disclosure to Government Records
Legislative Sunshine Package Includes Measure Permitting FOIL Requests Via the Internet

Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie and Governmental Operations Committee Chair Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes today announced the Assembly approved legislation expanding the state's sunshine laws, continuing the house's long-standing commitment to increasing the availability and accessibility of government records to New Yorkers.

"The public's access to government records is essential to the principles of a democratic form of government," said Heastie. "The legislation we approved today will increase the availability of government records to the public so they can participate in government in meaningful ways and thereby ensure the voice of the people is heard."

"The Assembly's sunshine legislation is centered on increasing the public's access to government records in order to provide greater openness, transparency and disclosure which are critical to any government's ability to successfully serve and meet the needs of its people," said Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes.

Included in the Assembly sunshine legislation is a bill (A.4468, Englebright) to clarify that the automatic and blanket denial to requests for records that are filed under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) is prohibited. In addition, this measure also would clarify that law enforcement records can be exempt from disclosure but only to the extent that the disclosure would interfere with an investigation or a judicial proceeding. Under the bill, the release of such records would require the approval of the presiding judge of the judicial proceeding.

Among the other legislative measures that were approved today and have been part of the Assembly's sunshine bill package over the years are bills that would:

In response to the reality that the internet is the public's tool of choice for accessing information that is important to them, the Assembly would require agencies that maintain websites to permit the online submission of requests for records that are subject to FOIL. This bill (A.5768, Peoples-Stokes) would help establish an online FOIL request process that is convenient and cost effective.