Data available to the public under the state Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) would be proactively disclosed on the Internet under model legislation developed by the Empire Center for Public Policy.

The full bill text is available for download.

Below is the bill memorandum:

TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the public officer’s law in relation to access to public records.

PURPOSE:

To insure that people know how government operates and spends money by creating minimum standards for posting government data in widely used formats to be monitored by the Committee on Open Government and comptroller. The committee would set minimum standards for content and format for easily searchable websites; and to require the assessment of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs against an agency where a person prevails in an Article 78 proceeding challenging the denial of access to records after a request pursuant to Article 6 of the public officer’s law.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

This legislation amends various provisions of Sections 84, 86, 87 and 89 of Article 6 of the public officer’s law as follows: amends §84 by amplifying the existing legislative declaration; amends §86(3) by clarifying the definition of “agency”; §86(4) by expanding the definition of “record”; amends §87(1) by adding a new section (c) which sets forth minimum standards for posting content; amends §87(2)(d) by deleting provisions relating to contract awards and collective bargaining agreements; amends §87(2)(g)(iv) to specifically include consultant’s reports; amends §87 by adding a new section (6) which creates a presumption that a requested record should be disclosed; amends §89(1)(b) clarifying the role of the committee; amends §89(3)(b) by clarifying the agency’s duty to respond to record requests; amends §89(4)(a) by extending the time to appeal a denial of access to a record to ninety (90) days from thirty (30) days; and amends §89(4)(c) by requiring the court to assess attorney’s fees and costs against an agency when a person prevails in an action against such agency that denied access to a record.

JUSTIFICATION:

This legislation would more clearly define the rights of persons making requests for public records and the duties of agencies in complying with requests for public records.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

None.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

None.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This act shall take effect 180 days after it shall have become law.

About the Author

Tim Hoefer

Tim Hoefer is president & CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Read more by Tim Hoefer

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The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

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