capitolsummerFrom the Morning Memo:

After pledging to expand the state’s Freedom of Information Law following a veto of two FOIL-strengthening measures, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office has reached out to the foremost expert on the issue: Robert Freeman of the Committee on Open Government.

“Although they were indeed vetoed, I’ve already spoken to the counsel to the governor, we will be working soon on developing legislation that involves a meeting of the minds that would advance the goals the Committee on Open Government has expressed,” Freeman said Monday.

Cuomo on Friday vetoed two FOIL-related bills, including one that would have reduced the time public agencies have to appeal a judicial decision in granting access to public records from nine months to two months.

At the same time, Cuomo pledged to expand FOIL to include the Senate and Assembly — measures state lawmakers have balked at before in part because they are already partially covered by the law.

“As the law applies to the state Legislature, instead it says that certain categories of records are available to the exclusion of everything else. It’s clear that fewer records are available from the state Legislature than the rest of government in New York,” Freeman said.

Another measure is aimed at requiring agencies to pay out legal fees and court costs incurred when a member of the public has prevailed in gaining access to documents and a court has ruled there is no “reasonable basis” for not providing the records.

Cuomo nevertheless on Saturday announced an executive order aimed at streamlining FOIL appeals, doing much of what the FOIL measure he ultimately struck down.

Still, Freeman points out the bill the governor vetoed would have gone further than the executive order.

“There’s one, I think, substantial difference,” Freeman said. “A law would apply to cities, counties, towns, village, school districts, public authorities. The executive order only applies to state agencies. Yes, it’s a positive step, but it’s not nearly as expansive as a law would have been.”