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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May 20, 2016 11:31 AM

Getting your hands on government information in the state of Minnesota is not always as easy as it may sound. In fact in some cases it may be impossible.

A KARE 11 investigation found the state categorizes information as private that can be easily accessed in other states. From online court records to complaints against teachers or doctors.  Continue...

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May 20, 2016 11:27 AM

A package of bills to make the governor and Legislature subject to Michigan public record laws was reported out of a House committee in a unanimous vote Thursday, and the committee chairman said he is hopeful it will pass the full Legislature before legislators takes their summer break.

Rep. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan, said the package of bills "potentially puts Michigan at the forefront for government transparency." Continue...

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May 20, 2016 11:22 AM

The House Judiciary Committee has swapped a bill governing the release of police dash cam videos with revisions to the state’s Freedom of Information Act, to get around a senator’s block of the FOIA bill in the Legislature’s final weeks.

Committee members said Thursday they like both bills but were afraid unless they placed the FOIA language in the dash cam bill and removed the dash cam legislation, the FOIA legislation might die.  Continue...

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May 19, 2016 11:06 AM

The online transparency of Wyoming’s state government is improving, according to a report released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG).

In its sixth annual report, Following the Money 2016: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, Wyoming was recognized as having one of the five most-improved state transparency websites.​  Continue...

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May 19, 2016 11:01 AM

An amendment has been proposed to Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act legislation, and Mark Headd, a tech exec who specializes in open government and civic access, thinks it could be problematic for open data transparency.

First, here’s what the proposed amendment says about § 10002(l)(17)a., Title 29 of the Delaware Code (the new stuff is underlined):  Continued...

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May 19, 2016 10:45 AM

One of South Carolina’s newest senators said Wednesday she is being bullied by proponents of open government.

Two months ago, Sen. Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, placed a procedural hold on a House of Representatives bill that aims to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Continue...

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May 19, 2016 10:36 AM

Hospitals and providers participating in physician-owned distributorships, or “PODs” may be at increased risk for government investigation or enforcement. A Senate Finance Committee (SFC) Report issued this month highlights the SFC’s concerns that certain POD structures may violate fraud and abuse statutes, including the Anti-Kickback Statute, Stark Law, as well as the Sunshine Act.

According to the SFC Report, PODs are “physician-owned entities that derive revenue from selling, or arranging for the sale of, implantable devices ordered by their physician-owners for use in procedures the physician-owners perform on their own patients in hospitals or ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs).”  Continue...

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May 19, 2016 10:27 AM

An animal rights group on Monday sued the University of Missouri, alleging it violated the state’s Sunshine Law more than 200 times and charged an excessive fee of $82,222.33 for records the group requested about animals being tested for research at the School of Medicine.

Individual members and supporters with California-based Animal Rescue, Media & Education's Beagle Freedom Project filed 27 records requests with MU between September and December that also asked for fee waivers. When MU refused the waiver and charged between $400 and $700 for each request, the not-for-profit hired an attorney and filed 179 more requests — one for each dog and cat it believed had been used for testing at the medical school. MU responded with an estimated cost of more than $82,000, according to the petition filed in Boone County Circuit Court.  Continue...

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May 18, 2016 12:13 PM

Today, Knight Foundation announced its largest journalism grant ever in creating the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. The institute will seek to understand and explain what First Amendment law is and should be in the digital age, but more than that, it will go to court to preserve and expand free expression.

Why? Because America sorely needs new First Amendment champions. Half the news leaders recently polled in a Knight-funded survey said the news industry is no longer prepared to defend the First Amendment. Attacks on our freedoms are escalating, and changing technology will bring new waves of cases. (Police can’t confiscate a printing press or shut down a broadcast studio. Why can they take your cellphone?)  Continue...

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May 18, 2016 11:59 AM

A "good government" organization says Delaware needs to reform its laws that allow for creation of limited liability corporations, or LLC's.

John Flaherty with the Delaware Coalition for Open Government says current procedures leave the state open to money laundering...Continue...

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May 18, 2016 11:54 AM

When you look up the weather forecast, use an app to plan your commute, or check an online ratings site to find a local doctor, you’re using open data. Open data - free public data, typically provided by governments, that anyone can use without restrictions - has become an integral part of our daily lives.

It provides citizens, businesses, and nonprofits with critical information to make more informed decisions. This data can be found on government data portals or websites such as the United States’ Data.gov or the World Bank’s data site Data.WorldBank.org.  Continue...

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May 18, 2016 11:50 AM

An audit by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government found it took anywhere from two days to several weeks for many government offices in the state to fulfill public records requests and more than a dozen failed to respond at all.

The open government advocacy group released the findings of its audit Tuesday. It marked the foundation's first public records audit in four years.  Continue...

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