Sen. Kane Calls For Giving Towns More Time To Comply With Online Posting Law Told GAE Committee He Would Rather Repeal Requirement For Small Towns

February 3, 2009

Senator Rob Kane (R-32) this week told the legislature’s Government Administration & Elections Committee (GAE) that he believes a bill to give municipalities more time to comply withthe state requirement to quickly post minutes on local government websites is a step in the right
direction, but that he would rather repeal the requirement for small towns.

Senator Kane offered his testimony during the February 2nd GAE public hearing on SB 772, An Act Concerning The Freedom Of Information Act which proposes giving municipalities until October 1, 2009 to post local government agency minutes on their websites within seven days of meetings if they provide a reason to the state Freedom of Information Commission. Beginning October 1st, municipalities would be exempt from this requirement if they demonstrate a hardship to the state Freedom of Information Commission.

“The municipalities I represent rely heavily on volunteers to serve on local government boards and committees. What that means is that many of the people who actually help run our local governments work at their paying jobs all day – and then take time away from their families at night to serve our towns. It is not fair to further burden these volunteers by requiring them to post minutes and agendas as quickly as state law requires. I appreciate the fact that this proposed legislation calls for giving towns extra time to become compliant with the new state law, and I know that both the volunteers and local elected officials in the towns I represent also appreciate this gesture. I know they will do their best to comply,” said Senator Kane.

However, Senator Kane said that small town governments are not likely to find it any easier to comply with the requirement on October 1st. He said that requiring towns to post information on their website within a certain number of days, or demonstrate a hardship to the state if they cannot meet that requirement, is both unfair and an unfunded mandate.

“I support SB 772 if passing this bill is really the best the General Assembly is willing to do for small towns that rely on volunteers to run their governments. But, the right thing to do is to simply repeal the online posting requirement for small towns. Otherwise, some towns will simply find it less onerous to close down their municipal websites, and that would be an unfortunate loss to the townspeople who use them,” said Senator Kane.

As an alternative, Senator Kane has proposed SB 87, An Act Concerning Notice of Municipal Meetings, which would exempt municipalities with a population of 30,000 or less from the requirement of posting notices and minutes on their municipal websites. Senator Kane’s proposed legislation is before the General Assembly’s Planning & Development Committee.