Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

File No. 275

    February Session, 2018

Substitute Senate Bill No. 279

Senate, April 5, 2018

The Committee on Public Safety and Security reported through SEN. LARSON of the 3rd Dist. and SEN. GUGLIELMO of the 35th Dist., Chairpersons of the Committee on the part of the Senate, that the substitute bill ought to pass.

AN ACT EXEMPTING THE DATE OF BIRTH OF A POLICE OFFICER AND AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION FROM DISCLOSURE UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2018) (a) No public agency may disclose, under the Freedom of Information Act, from its personnel, medical or similar files, the date of birth of any of the following persons employed by such public agency: (1) A sworn member of a municipal police department, (2) a sworn member of the Division of State Police within the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, (3) a sworn law enforcement officer within the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or (4) an employee of the Department of Correction.

(b) (1) Except as provided in subsections (a) and (c) of this section, no public agency may disclose the date of birth of any person described in subsection (a) of this section from any record described in subdivision (2) of this subsection that is requested in accordance with the provisions of said subdivision, regardless of whether such person is an employee of the public agency, provided such person has submitted a written request for the nondisclosure of the person's date of birth to the public agency.

(2) Any public agency that receives a request for a record subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, where such request: (A) Specifically names a person who has requested that his or her date of birth be kept confidential under subdivision (1) of this subsection, shall make a copy of the record requested to be disclosed and shall redact the copy to remove such person's date of birth prior to disclosing such record, (B) is for an existing list that is derived from a readily accessible electronic database, shall make a reasonable effort to redact the date of birth of any person who has requested that his or her date of birth be kept confidential under subdivision (1) of this subsection prior to the release of such list, or (C) is for any list that the public agency voluntarily creates in response to a request for disclosure, shall make a reasonable effort to redact the date of birth of any person who has requested that his or her date of birth be kept confidential under subdivision (1) of this subsection prior to the release of such list.

(3) Except as provided in subsection (a) of this section, a public agency may disclose the date of birth of any person listed in subsection (a) of this section from any record that is not subject to subparagraph (A), (B) or (C) of subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not apply to Department of Motor Vehicles records described in section 14-10 of the general statutes and shall not be construed to prohibit the disclosure without redaction of any lists prepared under title 9 of the general statutes.

(d) No public agency or public official or employee of a public agency shall be penalized for violating a provision of this section, unless such violation is wilful and knowing. Any complaint of such a violation shall be made to the Freedom of Information Commission. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the commission shall serve upon the public agency, official or employee, as the case may be, by certified or registered mail, a copy of the complaint. The commission shall provide the public agency, official or employee with an opportunity to be heard at a hearing conducted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes, unless the commission, upon motion of the public agency, official or employee or upon motion of the commission, dismisses the complaint without a hearing if it finds, after examining the complaint and construing all allegations most favorably to the complainant, that the public agency, official or employee has not wilfully and knowingly violated a provision of this section. If the commission finds that the public agency, official or employee wilfully and knowingly violated a provision of this section, the commission may impose against such public agency, official or employee a civil penalty of not less than twenty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow a private right of action against a public agency, public official or employee of a public agency.

Sec. 2. Subsection (e) of section 1-205 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

(e) The Freedom of Information Commission shall conduct training sessions, at least annually, for members of public agencies for the purpose of educating such members as to the requirements of sections 1-7 to 1-14, inclusive, 1-16 to 1-18, inclusive, 1-200 to 1-202, inclusive, 1-205, 1-206, 1-210 to 1-217, inclusive, 1-225 to 1-232, inclusive, 1-240, 1-241, [and] 19a-342 and section 1 of this act.

Sec. 3. Section 1-200 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

As used in this chapter and section 1 of this act, the following words and phrases shall have the following meanings, except where such terms are used in a context which clearly indicates the contrary:

(1) "Public agency" or "agency" means:

(A) Any executive, administrative or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district or other district or other political subdivision of the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official, and also includes any judicial office, official, or body or committee thereof but only with respect to its or their administrative functions, and for purposes of this subparagraph, "judicial office" includes, but is not limited to, the Division of Public Defender Services;

(B) Any person to the extent such person is deemed to be the functional equivalent of a public agency pursuant to law; or

(C) Any "implementing agency", as defined in section 32-222.

(2) "Meeting" means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. "Meeting" does not include: Any meeting of a personnel search committee for executive level employment candidates; any chance meeting, or a social meeting neither planned nor intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business; strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining; a caucus of members of a single political party notwithstanding that such members also constitute a quorum of a public agency; an administrative or staff meeting of a single-member public agency; and communication limited to notice of meetings of any public agency or the agendas thereof. A quorum of the members of a public agency who are present at any event which has been noticed and conducted as a meeting of another public agency under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act shall not be deemed to be holding a meeting of the public agency of which they are members as a result of their presence at such event.

(3) "Caucus" means (A) a convening or assembly of the enrolled members of a single political party who are members of a public agency within the state or a political subdivision, or (B) the members of a multimember public agency, which members constitute a majority of the membership of the agency, or the other members of the agency who constitute a minority of the membership of the agency, who register their intention to be considered a majority caucus or minority caucus, as the case may be, for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, provided (i) the registration is made with the office of the Secretary of the State for any such public agency of the state, in the office of the clerk of a political subdivision of the state for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state, or in the office of the clerk of each municipal member of any multitown district or agency, (ii) no member is registered in more than one caucus at any one time, (iii) no such member's registration is rescinded during the member's remaining term of office, and (iv) a member may remain a registered member of the majority caucus or minority caucus regardless of whether the member changes his or her party affiliation under chapter 143.

(4) "Person" means natural person, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association or society.

(5) "Public records or files" means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

(6) "Executive sessions" means a meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes: (A) Discussion concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that discussion be held at an open meeting; (B) strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency or a member thereof, because of the member's conduct as a member of such agency, is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled; (C) matters concerning security strategy or the deployment of security personnel, or devices affecting public security; (D) discussion of the selection of a site or the lease, sale or purchase of real estate by the state or a political subdivision of the state when publicity regarding such site, lease, sale, purchase or construction would adversely impact the price of such site, lease, sale, purchase or construction until such time as all of the property has been acquired or all proceedings or transactions concerning same have been terminated or abandoned; and (E) discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-210.

(7) "Personnel search committee" means a body appointed by a public agency, whose sole purpose is to recommend to the appointing agency a candidate or candidates for an executive-level employment position. Members of a "personnel search committee" shall not be considered in determining whether there is a quorum of the appointing or any other public agency.

(8) "Pending claim" means a written notice to an agency which sets forth a demand for legal relief or which asserts a legal right stating the intention to institute an action in an appropriate forum if such relief or right is not granted.

(9) "Pending litigation" means (A) a written notice to an agency which sets forth a demand for legal relief or which asserts a legal right stating the intention to institute an action before a court if such relief or right is not granted by the agency; (B) the service of a complaint against an agency returnable to a court which seeks to enforce or implement legal relief or a legal right; or (C) the agency's consideration of action to enforce or implement legal relief or a legal right.

(10) "Freedom of Information Act" means this chapter.

(11) "Governmental function" means the administration or management of a program of a public agency, which program has been authorized by law to be administered or managed by a person, where (A) the person receives funding from the public agency for administering or managing the program, (B) the public agency is involved in or regulates to a significant extent such person's administration or management of the program, whether or not such involvement or regulation is direct, pervasive, continuous or day-to-day, and (C) the person participates in the formulation of governmental policies or decisions in connection with the administration or management of the program and such policies or decisions bind the public agency. "Governmental function" shall not include the mere provision of goods or services to a public agency without the delegated responsibility to administer or manage a program of a public agency.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2018

New section

Sec. 2

October 1, 2018

1-205(e)

Sec. 3

October 1, 2018

1-200

PS

Joint Favorable Subst.

 

The following Fiscal Impact Statement and Bill Analysis are prepared for the benefit of the members of the General Assembly, solely for purposes of information, summarization and explanation and do not represent the intent of the General Assembly or either chamber thereof for any purpose. In general, fiscal impacts are based upon a variety of informational sources, including the analyst's professional knowledge. Whenever applicable, agency data is consulted as part of the analysis, however final products do not necessarily reflect an assessment from any specific department.


OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

Explanation

The bill, which requires the nondisclosure of birth dates of certain public agency employees, has no fiscal impact.

The Out Years

State Impact: None

Municipal Impact: None

OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 279

AN ACT EXEMPTING THE DATE OF BIRTH OF A POLICE OFFICER AND AN EMPLOYEE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION FROM DISCLOSURE UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT.

SUMMARY

This bill generally exempts certain public safety employee's birthdate on personnel, medical, or similar files from disclosure by a public agency (e.g., state or municipal entities) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The employee must submit a written request for nondisclosure. The bill applies to the following employees' information: (1) sworn municipal or state police officers, (2) sworn energy and environmental protection officers, or (3) Department of Corrections employees.

The bill sets out procedures for agencies to follow for FOIA requests that involve such birthdate disclosures. The bill's exemptions do not apply to certain DMV records (e.g., those disclosable to other government agencies) and election records.

The bill specifies that state employees must not be penalized for violations unless they were willful and knowing. It also provides procedures for disclosure violation complaints and hearings. For willful and knowing violations, the Freedom of Information Commission (FOIC) may impose a civil penalty of at least $20 but no more than $1,000. But the bill does not create a private right of action.

The bill incorporates the new exemption and related requirements into the context of training sessions FOIC must conduct, at least annually, to educate public employees about FOIA and related laws.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2018

AGENCY PROCEDURES FOR REQUESTS

The bill sets out procedures for a public agency that receives a FOIA request of a record from its personnel, medical, or similar files that has the birthdate of a public safety employee who has requested nondisclosure.

Under the bill, when the agency receives a request for a disclosable record where the request:

Outside of these situations, the bill allows public agencies to disclose a public safety employee's birthdate.

COMPLAINTS AND PENALTIES

The bill specifies that no public agency, official, or employee will be penalized for violating the bill's provisions unless the violation was willful and knowing.

Under the bill, any complaint for violations must be made to FOIC. When the commission receives a complaint, it must serve a copy of the complaint upon the agency, official, or employee (i.e., accused party) by certified or registered mail. Unless the complaint is dismissed, FOIC must allow the accused party to have a hearing in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act.

Upon an accused party's motion or its own motion, the commission may dismiss the complaint without a hearing if it finds that there was no willful and knowing violation after examining the complaint and construing the allegation most favorably to the complainant.

Under the bill, if FOIC finds that the accused party committed a willful and knowing violation, it may impose a civil penalty of at least $20 but no more than $1,000.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Public Safety and Security Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

17

Nay

8

(03/16/2018)

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