NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for August 31, 2012: Open government news from the states

August 31, 2012 1:29 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:

Know Your Rights: Open Records in Rhode Island

What is APRA?: The Access to Public Records Act, or APRA, is the Rhode Island state law that gives individuals the right to see and obtain public records. The law provides guidelines for obtaining access to these records, and also defines which records are subject to public inspection and which are exempt.

Who is subject to APRA?: All state and local governmental agencies are public entities and are subject to APRA. This means that every public body or entity is responsible for maintaining records and documents for public review, inspection and copying. The law also applies to various so-called “quasi-public” agencies. Judicial bodies are subject to APRA only in respect to their administrative functions.

Visit ACLU of Rhode Island for the rest.

In conjunction with this brochure from ACLU, be sure to see more about the important changes in Rhode Island's Access to Public Records Act.

Records request ban by some in Tennessee General Assembly bad for state 'business'

Opinion from the Tennessean: It’s an unfortunate truism in state government these days that you can’t count on a good thing. A law that has been designed to benefit the public in a most sensible way is going to be tampered with.

Consider Tennessee’s open records law. It was written and passed by a previous legislature mindful that Tennesseans had become fed up with government bodies acting behind closed doors and controlling the flow of information, even though that information was well within the public’s right to know.

Now, a number of influential legislators in our General Assembly are trying new ways to control that information, by imposing fees on individuals who request records from government agencies and watering down requirements that legal notices be adequately advertised.

Visit Tennessean editorial for the rest.

Iowa’s new Public Information Board holds second meeting

DES MOINES, Iowa: The Iowa Public Information Board, which was created earlier this year by the state Legislature, held its second meeting on August 21. The independent organization, which is tasked with oversight and enforcement of the state public meetings and open records law, held it’s first meeting on July 19. However, the only public notice given was a posted meeting agenda on a bulletin board by the governor’s office, thus few people even knew it was happening.

Visit Ballotnews for the rest.