Two Skoufis FOIL bills await Cuomo decision

Two bills sponsored by state Sen. James Skoufis that would strengthen access to public records were delivered this week to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and are awaiting his decisions to sign or veto them.

Both proposals were approved by the Legislature during the session that ended in June, by unanimous votes in the Assembly and with some Republican opposition in the Senate.

One, delivered to the governor on Tuesday, would speed the handling of lawsuits by companies that are trying to block the disclosure of state contracts or other records they claim are private for business reasons. The other, given to Cuomo on Thursday, would let judges decide whether to grant requests for state records that are involved in a pending court case, rather than allow state agencies to automatically reject the requests.

The government reform group Reinvent Albany recently reiterated its support for the bills by releasing memos it gave the Legislature during the session. It argued, for example, that protracted lawsuits can “delay disclosure of information that is not a trade secret or will not cause substantial injury to the company’s competitive position.”

“This information is valuable to the public’s understanding of how tax dollars are being spent,” the memo read. “This bill will ensure that proceedings are resolved in a timely manner.”

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