Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, April 5, 2023
The meeting was via Zoom.
Present: Tom Scheffey, Mitch Pearlman, Jeff Daniels, Jacqueline Smith, Karen Florin, Michele Jacklin, Mary Connolly, Colleen Murphy, Paula Pearlman, Liz Gemski.
The minutes of the March 15, 2023 monthly meeting were accepted.
Annual meeting: Our annual meeting in June traditionally includes the election of officers. It was agreed a June meeting would be better used for a “retreat” to discuss recruitment and future direction. It will be June 21, at a time and place yet to be set.
Legislative update: This special meeting was scheduled to keep updated on the legislative session. Gemski and Murphy went over recent action on FOI-related bills:
- SB 1153, establishing an FOI exemption from disclosure for certain higher education records pertaining to study, teaching or research. Gemski said the bill now includes broad exemption language. Professors are concerned about security and harassment. But big issues are involved, and big money.
- SB 1154, an act implementing the recommendations of the auditors, including to exempt disclosure of whistleblower complaints received by auditors. Murphy said the auditors strongly support this. She said the federal whistleblower system is very transparent, except for the whistleblower’s name. She said in Connecticut it is not transparent. People accused can’t even find out if they were cleared.
- SB 1157, an act to expand the list of public agency employees whose residential addresses are exempt to disclosure under FOIA. At least one motivation here is to prevent “union busting,” and mass requests for addresses with employees then asked to disassociate.
- SB 2022, an act concerning fees for copying, reviewing and redacting records created by police body cameras and dashboard cameras. Murphy worked with the police chiefs on this bill. They want exemptions when a person is in a state of undress as well as video of private residences. She said there should not be a full exemption on residence video, since in some instances the
video provides important evidence, such as in allegations of use of force.
- HB 6906, an act concerning member participation during remote and hybrid municipal public agency meetings. It requires members to be visible when voting and debating.
Looking ahead: The next monthly meeting is April 19 at 9 a.m. via Zoom.