NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for February 15, 2013

Access Freedom of InformationA 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. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.


Use of private emails for public work sparks FOIA battle

In June of 2012, the political press corps in New Mexico acquired a batch of interesting emails written by some of the highest-ranking members of Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s staff. The emails were being released by Michael Corwin, a Democratic operative who once worked on opposition research for former governor Bill Richardson. The documents did not cast Martinez’s administration in the best light: They showed administration officials compiling lists of non-union teachers for the governor’s outside political director, moving meetings with lobbyists to locations considered more discreet, and planning fishing trips with industry executives. Many of these emails involved state business—but they were sent from officials’ private email accounts.

Visit Columbia Journalism Review for the rest.

NC public access to gun records enters debate

RALEIGH — North Carolina lawmakers began debating Thursday whether there's a legitimate interest in the public having access to names, addresses and other identifying information of people purchasing pistols or who've obtained concealed weapons permits. A bill filed by more than a dozen Senate Republicans would make identifying information about people who have obtained the permits confidential unless the records are opened through a court order. The records are currently public records, meaning anyone can access them.

Visit The Daily Dispatch for the rest.

LSU rebuffs public records request

Louisiana State University will continue to keep secret the names and qualifications of candidates in the running to become the university’s next president after rejecting a public records request from The Advocate. The Advocate formally requested access last week to the applications, background materials and other information related to LSU’s search for a new university system president.

Visit The Advocate for the rest.

Bill could reduce cost of getting public records

JACKSON, MISS. — A bill that passed the Mississippi Senate on Wednesday seeks to reduce the cost for the general public to get copies of government documents. Senate Bill 2066 says requests for public records must be handled by the lowest-paid government employee who is qualified to do so.

Visit The Sun Herald for the rest.

Opinion: Colorado fees impede government transparency (poll)

Government belongs to us. We, the people, pay taxes only so various branches of government can serve our wants and needs. Nothing about government is for the sake of politicians and other public servants, though we have a moral obligation to appreciate their service and to compensate and treat them well. Because the government is ours, nearly all of its work products should be open to public scrutiny and inspection. This doesn’t always please our employees, but facilitating scrutiny and inspection is part of their jobs — which we fund.

Visit Opinion from The Gazette for the rest.

Diluting state's public records law

A pair of bills submitted by Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to the Legislature are touted as "increasing government transparency," but they could do just the opposite. Currently, government records and documents in Nevada are presumed to be open to the press and public unless they fall into certain limited categories specified by law. The law states, "All public books and public records of a governmental entity, the contents of which are not otherwise declared by law to be confidential, must be open at all times during office hours to inspection by any person …"

Visit Editorial from Las Vegas Review-Journal for the rest.

The Oregon House passes bill to shield certain bed bug data from public records

A bill that would shield certain bed bug data from public records law in an effort to encourage voluntary reporting passed in the House this morning. House Bill 2131, which now heads to the Senate, passed on a 55-1 vote. … Under the bill, bed bug infestations reported by pest control operators to a public health authority would be kept confidential. The location of the infestation, identity of the property owner and information describing the infestation would be exempt from public records law.

Visit for the rest.

Wisconsin Rapids School Board approves rate hike for public records

Anyone requesting public records from the Wisconsin Rapids School District now will have to pay more for the information. The cost for paper copies will increase from 10 cents a page to 15 cents a page, after the School Board unanimously approved a revised procedure Monday for the release of public records and property. In addition, the cost for locating and preparing such records will increase from $10 an hour to the actual hourly rate and fringe benefits of the employee locating the records.

Visit Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune for the rest.