Can Connecticut learn something about open government from Utah?

2009 March 13
by Attorney Mark Dumas

I’ve mentioned before that a great way to learn about trends in open government and freedom of information law is read other FOIA blogs.  Well, here’s another example.  The Allied Law Group’s Open-Government Blog, which covers the topic for the state of Washington, recently posted about something great in Utah.  Here’s what our friends at the Allied Law Group had to say:

The state of Utah is ahead of the times.

They have a web site where the public can find out about the dates, times, and locations of all public meetings of state and local governmental entities.

And they’re right.  The state of Utah really is ahead of the times.  The Utah website not only includes dates and times of meetings at all levels of government, but also includes agendas and attachments to notices.

Citizens in Connecticut would be well served by a similar resource and it could be used to remove some of the administrative burden that small towns face in meeting new requirements about posting notices and minutes online.

There has been a lot of controversy in Connecticut about online agendas and minutes and there are couple of bills addressing that topic before the legislature.  Although I will discuss this topic and bills in more detail next week, the crux of the issue is that small towns don’t think they can afford the technical costs and liability associated with posting agendas and minutes online.  So some of those small towns are asking the state to repeal a recent change to the Freedom of Information Act requiring that town’s with websites post agendas and minutes online.

The new requirement is a classic unfunded mandate and perhaps Utah has found the best solution.  I’ll have much more on this next week as part of the 2009 Sunshine Week.

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    1. The Freedom of Information Law Blog | Read a Sunshine Week article that I wrote that appears in today’s Connecticut Post | Connecticut Lawyer & Attorney Mark Dumas | Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, New B
    2. The Freedom of Information Law Blog | How a new law and “gotcha people” forced one Conn. town to shutdown its website | Connecticut Lawyer & Attorney Mark Dumas | Bridgeport, Bristol, Danbury, Fairfield, Hartford, Litchfield, Middlesex, Ne

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