Injustice thrives in the dark. The ability to shed sunlight on government action through Freedom of Information requests is essential to holding public officials accountable and to preventing state-sanctioned discrimination, abuse, and mismanagement. When a member of the public believes that the government has unjustly denied a Freedom of Information request, they should be able to quickly and easily seek recourse. The net effects of these two bills, however, would be to stifle government transparency and accountability. By requiring members of the public to pay up front to appeal a denied Freedom of Information request, H.B. 5175 would reward bad government behavior while punishing public attempts to secure transparency. The ACLU-CT has similar concerns with H.B. 5177, which would require a public agency to notify an employee and a collective bargaining representative if it receives a request to inspect or copy records contained in that employee's file. The current exemption for agency records allows the agency to determine if disclosure of the records would constitute an invasion of privacy. Therefore, we believe making notification mandatory will only increase the occurence of agencies withholding disclosures without merit, creating less transparency.
H.B. 5175, An Act Concerning Appeals Under the Freedom of Information Act & H.B. 5177, An Act Concerning Employee Notification of Requests Made Under the Freedom of Information Act
H.B. 5175 & H.B. 5177