Celebrating ‘Sunshine Month’ in Texas


FOI Focus
Winter 2018 Newsletter 

Celebrating ‘Sunshine Month’ in Texas
Perhaps you’ve heard of “Sunshine Week.” It’s a national event held each March to celebrate access to public information and the people’s right to know.
We’re doing our part in Texas to raise awareness for Sunshine Week, which is March 11-17. Look for an FOI Foundation of Texas column in newspapers and on news websites around the state that week. The FOI Foundation is also encouraging other news coverage.
Actually, we’re considering March to be “Sunshine Month” because there are so many activities planned.
FOI Foundation Executive Director Kelley Shannon will address the Society of Professional Journalists regional conference at San Antonio College on March 3 and will join a panel discussion the city of Austin is hosting March 21 as part of its Open Government Symposium 2018.
The next week, the Texas House Government Transparency and Operation Committee is holding an interim hearing at 10 a.m. March 27. Some of the agenda items address the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act. Please try to attend or watch online.

Two days later, on March 29, the FOI Foundation of Texas along with Sen. Kirk Watson and Rep. Todd Hunter – two leading open government advocates at the Capitol – will join the Texas Public Policy Foundation for its policy primer “Open Government, Engaged Citizens: A Conversation on Texas’ Public Information Act.” It takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the TPPF offices, 901 Congress Ave. in Austin.
Finally, we’ll be unveiling a new “sunshine” website and coalition in March with ally organizations as we work this year toward improving the Texas Public Information Act in the 2019 Legislature. We’ll share details soon.
Remember, the Public Information Act is for everyone. The ability to access public records helps you speak up and participate in your government on all issues.

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Open Government Seminars & First Amendment Institute
The FOI Foundation of Texas is again embarking on regional Open Government Seminars, offering training on Texas’ open government laws in communities throughout the state this year. Everyone is welcome. 

Seminars will begin in April. The first scheduled seminar is April 17 at the University of Texas at Arlington. Government employees, attorneys, journalists, students and interested citizens will find the one-day seminars useful. The training sessions are conducted by the FOI Foundation and the Texas Attorney General’s Office and focus on the Texas Public Information Act and Texas Open Meetings Act. Updates arising from the 2017 Legislature will be included. Register today to secure your space!
More details are coming soon on additional dates and cities.
At the Arlington seminar, the FOI Foundation will unveil its new First Amendment Institute, a special training segment designed for journalists to learn more about press rights. The session from 1:15 to 3:15 p.m. is free to professional and student journalists, but register secure your space. Some scholarship travel funding may be available for out-of-town journalists. Contact kelley.shannon@foift.org for more information.

FOI Foundation state conference set for Sept. 21


Mark your calendars for Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, when the FOI Foundation will hold its annual state conference. This year’s daylong conference will be at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, 208 Barton Springs Road. Registration is open!
We expect a lively lineup of speakers who will share their views and expertise on open government. Stay tuned for more information as speakers are confirmed.
A conference highlight is the John Henry Faulk Awards Luncheon, where the FOI Foundation presents the James Madison Awardto an open government and First Amendment champion. If you know a worthy recipient, please submit a nomination. Also at the luncheon, the State Bar of Texas presents its Texas Gavel Awards to outstanding journalists.

Thanks for supporting the public’s right to know

We appreciate all the generous year-end donations we received as part of “Giving Tuesday” in late November and through the end of the year. Your contributions ensured that we began 2018 on a positive note. We welcome donations any time. The new year is going to be an exciting one as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the FOI Foundation of Texas.
Donate online or mail a check to:


Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
3001 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 302 
Austin, Texas 78705 

Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
Kelley Shannon
Executive Director