The Connecticut General Assembly unanimously adopted the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") in 1975. Prior to that time, Connecticut had an open record and open meeting law, but FOIA was noted for making "sweeping changes" in that law so as to "mark a new era in Connecticut with respect to opening up the doors of the city and state government to the people of Connecticut." Bd. of Trustees v. FOIC, 181 Conn. 544, 550, 436 A.2d 266 (1980).
FOIA covers both access to public records and access to public meetings, and it expresses a strong legislative policy in favor of open conduct of government and free public access to government records. This policy has been found to have "strong federal constitutional underpinnings." Lieberman v. State Bd. of Labor Relations, 216 Conn. 253, 579 A.2d 505 (1990). As stated by Representative Martin B. Burke, one of the bill's sponsors:
The legislature finds and declares that . . . the people do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. That the people in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for them to know and that it is the intent of this law that actions taken by public agencies be taken openly and their deliberations be conducted openly and that the records of all public agencies be open to the public except in those instances where superior public interest requires confidentiality.
One of the cornerstones of FOIA is the creation of a specific administrative agency, the Freedom of Information Commission (the "FOIC"), that is empowered to review alleged violations of FOIA and issue appropriate orders in response to violations. This provides a relatively simple avenue for redress of violations of FOIA, and as a result, greatly strengthens the utility and effect of FOIA. Moreover, since individuals can often represent themselves before the FOIC, the FOIC truly transforms FOIA into a "people's law."
The opinions of the FOIC may be accessed on its website.
The General Assembly has amended FOIA several times since it was first adopted in 1975, but these amendments have only served to strengthen FOIA's commitment to open government.
In 1999, the General Assembly re-codified FOIA by establishing a new Chapter 14 to Title 1 of the General Statutes. FOIA is now found at Conn. Gen. Stat. § §1-200 through 1-241.