NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for August 17, 2012

August 17, 2012 3:59 PM

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

Three bills increase government transparency in Delaware

It's been more than 20 years since Delaware Campaign Finance Laws were last updated, but things have now changed. Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del., signed House Bill 300, House Bill 310 and Senate Bill 185 into law this week, creating more government transparency in Delaware. The new bills are right on time, since many organizations and companies have been quite vocal about the need for open government lately.

Visit NewsWorks for the rest.

Minnesota authorities: No conspiracy in withholding public records in state Rep. Gauthier rest stop case

Though the Minnesota State Patrol and the Duluth Police Department repeatedly denied requests for information on an incident concerning Rep. Kerry Gauthier, representatives from both agencies said Thursday there was no attempt to cover up for the state legislator. “There’s no conspiracy here,” Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said. The News Tribune initially requested police data on Gauthier on Aug. 8 and was told that none existed pertaining to the Thompson Hill incident.

Visit Duluth News Tribune for the rest.

New Jersey judge sides with Gannett newspapers in public-records lawsuit against Raritan Borough

In a decision that expands the public’s access to government records, a Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that a municipality must turn over its computerized payroll records to the Gannett newspapers. The town, Raritan Borough in Somerset County, said that its private payroll vendor held the documents, which could not be extracted from its computer unless the newspaper group paid $1,100. Superior Court Judge Yolanda Ciccone ruled that it was irrelevant if a private company held the documents. The borough must provide the digital records without cost, she said.

Visit MyCentralJersey.com for the rest.

Experts: Northern Virginia FOIA tracking not out of bounds

The motive behind Shenandoah County supervisors' inquiry into information requests the government fielded the past few months -- and how they might use the data -- remains unknown. Representatives for two state watchdog agencies say the supervisors have a right to track requests -- so long as they don't use that information to deter people from making requests in the future.

Visit nvdaily.com for the rest.

New Mexico AG's Office: City's draft documents are public domain

The city of Santa Fe and other New Mexico governing bodies cannot keep “draft documents” secret merely because they are not considered final, according to a letter issued Wednesday by the state Attorney General’s Office. The letter comes nearly five months after City Attorney Geno Zamora asked the office for guidance amid a dispute over records requests from The Santa Fe New Mexican.

Visit Santa Fe New Mexican for the rest.

Pike County (Indiana) resident, newspaper sue health department to access death records

EVANSVILLE — A Pike County resident and the Evansville Courier & Press are suing the Vanderburgh County Health Department to obtain access to cause of death information contained on death certificates maintained by the health department. The newspaper and Rita Ward of Winslow, Ind., contend the death certificates are public records, while the health department interprets state law to require it to restrict access to them.

Visit Evansville Courier & Press for the rest.

Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records rules that Wellesley Public Schools overcharging for public records

Wellesley — The Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records has ruled that the Wellesley Public Schools did not provide the Townsman with a “good faith” estimate of costs related to a public records request submitted to the school administration in February. In January, a Townsman reporter had submitted a public records request for e-mails sent between Jan. 1, 2010, and Jan. 13, 2012, between former Superintendent Bella Wong, former business manager Ruth Quinn Berdell and members of the School Committee.

Visit The Wellesley Townsman for the rest.