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Lawmakers consider expanding access to public information

ALBANY — Efforts to expand access to public information collected by law enforcement are gaining traction in the Capitol.

Legislation advanced Monday by the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee would prevent law enforcement agencies from automatically rejecting freedom of information requests for records involved in a judicial proceeding or compiled as part of a criminal investigation.

“It helps to narrow the scope of documents that can be denied based on a blanket assertion that they’re linked to a law enforcement investigation or court proceeding,” said New York News Publishers Association President Diane Kennedy.

New York currently allows law enforcement agencies to decide if disclosing public information would interfere with an ongoing judicial proceeding, according to Sen. Jiames Skoufis, an Orange County Democrat pushing to reform the practice.

“Let’s let the judges in charge of those judicial appearances determine what is interference,” Skoufis said.

Additionally, it amends language in state law that has enabled public entities to deny requests for records compiled as part of a criminal investigation, even though the information was prepared in the ordinary course of business, such as meeting minutes.

New York State Committee on Open Government Director Robert Freeman noted that this provision, in addition to the ongoing judicial proceedings, was …read more

Thank you Source: NYS News

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