Mark Sommaruga Talks About FOIA Updates on Connecticut Public Radio
Mark J. Sommaruga, an attorney in Pullman & Comley's Labor and Employment Law and School Law practices, was interviewed on Connecticut Public Radio about the key updates to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The FOIA, which gives any citizen the right to access most documented records created by state and local governments, has had to evolve over the years due to the technology and circumstances on how records are created. Mark, who recently published the sixth edition of his book "Understanding Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act," said the widespread move to Zoom meetings during COVID was a significant catalyst for the evolution of FOIA. “We all learned from those experiences. The legislature now has revised the FOIA to put in provisions now governing remote meetings in terms of how they take place and what notice must be required,” Mark said.
Another major development is the fines associated with failing to comply with FOIA requests, which has been raised substantially from $1,000 to $5,000. Additionally, the new law has revised language in it that could result in more FOIA violations. This is significant because in the past, very few fines have been issued. The Freedom of Information Commission has only levied six fines since 2012. “Some of the language in terms of, for example, patterns or trying to stall or not be prompt may be subject to fines now. There's both an increase in the amount of fines and also an expansion of the authority when they can issue fines,” Mark said.
To listen to the full interview, please visit the Connecticut Public Radio website.