Despite requests to reschedule by open government groups, two legislative committees are poised to move forward with simultaneous public hearings Monday on the same proposal impacting public access to records.
On Thursday the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association and the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information urged lawmakers to reschedule one of the hearings on task force recommendations that would, among other things, restrict public access to recordings of 911 emergency calls. Both the Government Administration and Elections Committee and the Judiciary Committee will hear public testimony on the issue Monday.
Government Administration and Elections Chairs Rep. Ed Jutila and Sen. Anthony Musto responded Friday in a letter to Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association Executive Director Chris VanDeHoef. They said the scheduling conflict was unintentional but asked him to look on the bright side of the situation.
“…we believe that it actually may be better for those wishing to testify. Unlike legislators and advocacy groups, our citizens cannot take multiple trips to the Capitol to testify on these bills due to their jobs, family commitments and simply inconvenience. Rather than make them come twice, they can come once and testify twice,” they wrote. “…Please consider this an opportunity to address the members of two separate committees on the same issue on the same day.”
In his Thursday statement, CCFOI President Jim Smith said he did not see the scheduling as a good opportunity.
“I simply don’t think two separate committees can expect to have the best hearings possible on such a vital topic if they’re doing it at the exact same time. How is this the most open they can be?” he said.
VanDeHoef said he was disappointed by the committee’s unwillingness to move the hearing.
“I’m going to do my best to be in two places at once,” he said.