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Cuomo signs bill to strengthen FOIL

Dec 14, 2017 7:45 am

Brendan J. Lyons is reporting in the Times Union Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill December 13 that will require judges to award attorneys' fees to litigants who substantially prevail in Freedom of Information Law cases. The governor acknowledged the legislation is important but said it falls far short of comprehensively reforming the state's antiquated Freedom of Information Law. "The bill before me continues to perpetuate a fractured and inequitable system of transparency by only applying to the executive (branch), and intentionally excluding other branches of government," Cuomo said in a memo filed in support of the measure. However, advocates for greater government transparency hailed the legislation as necessary to prevent agencies at all levels of state government from deliberately withholding public records or delaying responses unnecessarily. The bill signed Wednesday requires that courts shall assess reasonable legal costs in FOIL cases in which a person substantially prevailed and the court finds there was no reasonable basis for denying access to a record. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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