Michigan Supreme Court orders redistricting panel to release memos, video of private meeting

The Michigan Supreme Court on Dec. 20, 2021, ordered the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to release a recording of an October 2021 private meeting and to release memos that the Commission sought to keep under wraps. The Commission’s attorneys claimed the memos should be concealed because of attorney-client privilege. The Michigan Press Association and…

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When copyright and FOI collide, public access often is denied, law article explains

State and local governments increasingly claim copyright protections to deny public access to records and data, and the tension between intellectual property laws and freedom of information laws raises difficult issues, according to an article by Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, which is a partner of the National Freedom…

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Delays to files ‘can result in a complete denial of meaningful access,’ argues brief signed by NFOIC

The National Freedom of Information Coalition joined a Dec. 15, 2021, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press amici curiae brief. The brief, signed by 28 organizations, urges a federal appeals court to overrule a lower court that allowed Maine court clerks to delay public access to newly filed civil complaints. Maine’s recently implemented amendments…

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Group letter urges New York governor to sign bill that would enhance transparency law

The National Freedom of Information Coalition joined Reinvent Albany in urging New York Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign a bill that would enhance the state’s Freedom of Information Law. “We are asking you to sign this bill into law as part of a new and sincere commitment to fostering greater transparency in our state,” reads…

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Letter urges Congress to publish non-confidential Congressional Research Service reports

The National Freedom of Information Coalition endorsed a Dec. 13, 2021, letter to leaders of the Joint Committee on the Library, requesting that they direct the Library of Congress to publish all non-confidential Congressional Research Service reports online. Demand Progress, American Enterprise Institute, and Free Government Information drafted the letter, which was signed by 42…

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In a blow to transparency, Virginia conceals names of government workers using credit cards

On a recommendation from its vendor, Virginia has removed government employee names from credit card expenses, a move that contradicts the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, experts say. Bank of America advised state leaders to withhold the names of people with state-issued credit cards. Bank of America said the advice is intended to reduce the…

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Project invites help, seeks data as it tries to gain understanding of COVID-19 deaths

The United States is undercounting COVID-19 deaths, especially among Native, Hispanic and Black Americans. A project of MuckRock and Columbia’s Brown Institute for Media Innovation, in collaboration with USA Today, will attempt to examine the true death toll from the pandemic. “There are sizable gaps in the data as local and state medical examiners and…

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Many police personnel records remain secret, despite public pressure for transparency

Despite public pressure to make police misconduct and complaint records available to the public, many personnel records remain secret. In some jurisdictions, because of state laws or by contract, officers can conceal their personnel files, including records of wrongdoing. “Secrecy of police discipline has been a huge problem,” Sam Walker, an emeritus professor at the…

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Letter, signed by 20 organizations, supports bill to modernize court case management system

The National Freedom of Information Coalition and 20 other organizations signed a Dec. 6, 2021, letter, urging Senate Judiciary Committee leaders to support the Open Courts Act.  The letter supports the bill as a way to modernize the judicial branch’s case management system, known as PACER, in ways that would improve public access. …

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Timely access to COVID-19 information serves the public interest, Wisconsin brief argues

Third-party business groups have no valid legal basis to prevent the disclosure of COVID-19 outbreaks, and timely access to such information serves the public interest, especially during a pandemic.  Those are key arguments in an amicus brief written by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and signed by 12 organizations, including the National…

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