Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information
Minutes, June 12, 2023
The meeting was via Zoom.
Present: Mike Savino, Tom Scheffey, Jacqueline Smith, Mary Connolly, Michele Jacklin, Jeff Daniels, Mitch Pearlman, Karen Florin, David DesRoches, Chris Powell, Liz Gemski, Paula Pearlman.
The minutes of the May 31, 2023 special meeting were accepted.
This special meeting was scheduled to discuss the legislature’s final actions. Gemski reported two positive bills for transparency advocates were approved. The artificial intelligence bill has already been signed by Governor Lamont. Fines for violating the FOI Act were increased to $5,000, perhaps increasing public pressure on public agencies to comply with the law. FOIC rarely imposes fines because they are paid with taxpayer dollars, not paid by the officials who failed to follow the law.
Most bills CCFOI worked against did not pass, including proposals to create FOI exemptions for university researchers, state employee addresses and police body cam video. The state auditor’s proposal to exempt the disclosure of whistleblower complaints received by
auditors did pass. Throughout the legislative session, Gemski had said this would be the most difficult proposal to defeat. The auditors are an arm of the legislature and have considerable influence. Gemski said most legislators simply did not see this proposal as a problem for FOI. They saw it as support for whistleblowers.
There was discussion of how the AI bill will be implemented. It requires the executive and judicial branches to conduct an inventory of their systems that employ AI and requires the development of policies and procedures on using AI. It establishes a 21-member working group to make recommendations to the General Law Committee on AI issues. There is concern FOI issues will not be part of the discussion if the working group does not include people from the FOI and public policy communities. There was agreement that David DesRoches would be recommended for appointment to the working group.
Looking ahead: the June 21 retreat to discuss our future direction is at 1 p.m. at 35 Bunker Hill Road, Glastonbury.