Two Proposals Threaten Transparency in Connecticut

By Jodie Mozdzer Gil, CTSPJ President 

The state legislature is reviewing two bills that limit the public’s ability to get public information.

Both proposals prohibit journalists from fully doing their jobs and prevent the public from remaining fully informed on issues of public concern.

The first is the proposal to redefine meetings under the FOI Act (Bill No. 1148). This proposal would allow “members of different political parties” to hold closed-door discussions about proposed legislation or action of their public agency.

That’s a concerning change to the current law, which allows closed-door meetings (executive sessions) in only specific scenarios, with a statement of what topic will be discussed.

So if this bill is approved, what could be discussed behind closed doors?  What discussions of public concern will be shielded from review? The consequences are frightening.

The Connecticut SPJ Board is drafting a statement opposing the proposal. Click here to get more information on the bill, including testimony from a public hearing held March 25. Click here for an overview on the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog.

The second concerning proposal is the effort to limit public access to death certificates, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings on Dec. 14 (Bill No. 5733).

In testimony before the Joint Committee on Public Health, opponents of the bill outlined the limited information already included in death certificates, and argued that there are legitimate reasons why open death certificates are useful to the public. For example, if a child dies while at a child-care center or in state custody, it is important to understand better what happened.

The Hartford Courant and the New London Day had editorials this week opposing the bill.

“Emotions should not drive public policy,” The Day’s editorial says.

Click here for an article on the proposal from the Hartford Courant.


No comments yet

Comments are closed

Copyright 2010-2017. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525