The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/.
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September 22, 2016 10:16 AM

The Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal requested by the Daily Press in a yearlong dispute over whether the state’s Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court must release a database of court case information.

The decision was issued Sept. 19, about two and a half weeks after lawyers representing the Daily Press argued that the state’s highest court should hear the case.

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September 22, 2016 10:09 AM

University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall Jr. has lost in court a second time, and perhaps for good, in his effort to gain access to confidential student information from an investigation of admissions irregularities.

A three-judge panel of the state 3rd Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that Chancellor Bill McRaven didn’t act outside the scope of his authority when he refused to turn over unredacted records to Hall, a Dallas businessman. The UT System-commissioned investigation by Kroll Associates Inc. found that then-UT-Austin President Bill Powers sometimes ordered students admitted, despite subpar academic records, at the urging of legislators, regents, donors and other influential people.

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September 22, 2016 10:06 AM

The state House passed a package of bills Wednesday that for the first time in Michigan would subject the governor's office and the Legislature to state open records laws.

The Free Press reported in 2014 that Michigan was one of only two states in which both the governor and the Legislature have blanket exemptions from public records disclosure laws.

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September 21, 2016 9:37 AM

A circuit court judge will decide this week whether to force the Horry County Police Department to release the personnel files of two former officers to a lawyer representing a woman who has accused former detective Allen Large of sexual assault.

The attorney is also seeking citizen complaints and internal affairs files about all HCPD employees accused of making unwanted sexual advances or sexual abuse.

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September 21, 2016 9:19 AM

The Montana State Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to review the disciplinary records related to a former University of Montana student and determine which, if any, can be released to author Jon Krakauer.

In an opinion released Monday, the court both affirmed in part and reversed in part a previous order by Lewis and Clark County District Court that all the records be released. The Montana Supreme Court said that while the District Court had correctly ruled Krakauer, who lives in Colorado, could make the request under Montana’s right to know law, the student’s education records have a heightened level of privacy protection that the lower court needed to balance with that right.

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September 21, 2016 9:14 AM

Read the original statement here.

From Politico:

One of Washington's leading voices for transparency and public access to government data, the Sunlight Foundation, is planning to shut down much of its operation and may merge into another organization.

Sunlight was an early innovator at easing online public access to campaign finance and legislative information, but earlier this year it shut down its OpenCongress database, saying others were providing similar tools. Klein said Tuesday that Sunlight plans to no longer maintain its government databases and will be seeking to transfer some projects to others.

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September 20, 2016 10:34 AM

The gas industry is pushing for a delay in new Virginia drilling regulations until it can get state law changed to protect key information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

These regulations, the result of a review that started at the end of 2013, are slated to be finalized shortly before the end of the year. Industry lobbyists this week asked legislators on a commission that monitors the executive branch's regulatory process to help delay implementation until at least July 2017.

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September 20, 2016 10:31 AM

The Miami Herald filed suit Friday against Miami-Dade County seeking to force the county to disclose records showing the locations where mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been trapped.

Miami Beach residents need to know where the mosquitoes have been found so they can intelligently debate whether spraying a controversial insecticide over “the entirety of a 1.5 square mile densely populated area” is justified, the lawsuit said, asking for a quick hearing in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.

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September 20, 2016 10:23 AM

With the public demanding greater access to police documents and videos, two cases in the Lehigh Valley area could help shape legal precedent about what records must be released.

A Northampton County judge will decide whether the public is entitled to see complaints filed by citizens against a police officer. That case stems from a Bethlehem resident's request for complaint and disciplinary records about a Bethlehem officer.

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September 19, 2016 1:45 PM

Louisville Public Media and Kentucky Public Radio have sued the University of Louisville Foundation claiming that it has failed to comply with Kentucky Open Records Law.

In the suit filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, the media company that runs WFPL and the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting claims that it requested documents from the foundation in February and that the foundation didn't respond within the three business days allowable under the law. Then, the foundation claimed that some of the document requests were too burdensome.

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September 19, 2016 1:43 PM

NEW YORK - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today officially launched the USDA Branded Food Products Database, a free online resource for families, the food industry and researchers containing nutrition details on more than 80,000 name brand prepared and packaged foods available at restaurants and grocery stores. The announcement was made at the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) Summit.

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open data, USDA
September 19, 2016 1:42 PM

Universities and drug companies that use human volunteers for research face tough new rules designed to make sure that valuable information from these volunteers is widely available, not only to the volunteers themselves but to scientists trying to advance medical science.

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