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New York Governor Urged To Strengthen Freedom Of Information Laws

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ALBANY (WSKG) – 20 state and national groups supporting a bill that would strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Law are urging Governor Cuomo to sign the measure into law as soon as he receives it from the state legislature.  The bill, approved by the Senate and the Assembly in June, says if a court finds that a state agency unreasonably dragged its feet answering a Freedom of Information request, a judge could require the agency to pay the attorney’s fees for the person or group who made the FOIL request. Alex Camarda, with the reform group Reinvent Albany, says the provision, which already exists in several states including Florida and Illinois, is key to making the FOIL process functional. He says those requesting the information often can’t afford a potentially lengthy court battle. “All too often state agencies don’t follow the spirit and even the letter of the Freedom of Information Act,” Camarda said.   Cuomo has until the end of the year to sign or veto the bill.  It has not yet been sent to him. Backers include the League of Women Voters, NYU’s Brennan Center, the New York Press Club, which represents newspapers, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which sent a letter signed by the New York Times and NPR, among others.