National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

New records gained under legislative FOIL would likely be minimal in New York

A provision in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal to fully subject the Legislature to the Freedom of Information Law would be unlikely to lead to a torrent of new records being made available to the public.

The idea has widespread support in the transparency community, but some advocates think the governor’s top priority should be ensuring that existing FOIL requirements imposed on the executive branch work as smoothly as possible.

Most of the information in which the public is interested, they argue, is maintained by agencies and authorities that often resist public information requests. To get a sense of the scope of Cuomo’s proposal, POLITICO New York reviewed thousands of public information requests sent to legislatures that are already subjected to their states’ sunshine laws. The results were underwhelming — of the 448 requests since the beginning of 2015 sent to the Illinois House of Representatives, for example, only a dozen would be newly subjected to FOIL under the proposal. Continue…