National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for June 7, 2013

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


Bulldog open records lawsuit continues

How could you find out if Austin City Council members participated in an illegal quorum discussion about city business using their private e-mail accounts—a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act? The short answer is: you can’t. Under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) you may request copies of e-mails exchanged by public officials about public business and you would be entitled to get them—including e-mails sent or received on private accounts (although in the past, the private-accounts issue has been a matter of legal contention).

Visit The Austin Bulldog for the rest.

Times-Union sues Mayor Alvin Brown and public safety pension fund over negotiating deal in secret

Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s administration and the Police and Fire Pension board violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by conducting collective bargaining negotiations in private meetings, The Florida Times-Union asserts in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Duval County Circuit Court. Brown announced May 8 a pension deal negotiated between the city, the pension fund and the police and fire unions that he said would save $1.2 billion over 30 years. The City Council must approve any pension agreement.

Visit The Florida Times-Union for the rest.

Wisconsin lawmakers try to remove investigative reporting center from University of Wisconsin

Early this week, I awoke to learn that University of Wisconsin-Madison journalism student Mario Koran had won a prestigious scholarship named for a brave and talented young journalist who died last year while reporting in Mexico City. Yesterday morning, I awoke to learn an overnight move by some in the Wisconsin legislature threatened the very collaboration that helped forge Koran’s reporting skills and imperiled my freedom to teach and influence young journalists like him. I am reeling from the juxtaposition, and every person who cares about moving journalism education forward should feel threatened by these events.

Visit for the rest.

EDITORIAL: Marlboro’s lesson on FOIA law useful for many

The Marlboro County Schools Board of Trustees had an unusual visitor at its meeting Monday night. Jay Bender, legal counsel for the South Carolina Press Association, law professor at the University of South Carolina and the state’s pre-eminent expert on open meetings law, dropped by to give the board the lowdown on seemingly arcane topic: the amendment of meeting agendas. Bender was on hand at the behest of Lucy Parsons, the chair — but hardly the master — of the Marlboro board.

Visit for the rest.

Law blocking Newtown records passed, but most attempts to enact FOI exemptions failed

HARTFORD — Lawmakers introduced at least seven bills to carve exceptions into the state Freedom of Information Act — and, while the most controversial one passed, blocking release of photos and videos of murder victims after the Newtown massacre, most of the others died. Open-government activists said they were concerned about the continued chipping at the FOI Act but added that the 2013 legislative session could have turned out worse.

Visit The Courant for the rest.

Albany has time to support open government

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers steam toward the finish line of the current legislative session, there are several measures to ensure open discourse and government transparency that they need to put high on their to-do list. The state Senate, for example, must move on a pair of bills that would shed sunshine on both public documents and public debate.

Visit for the rest.

Chemerinsky: Court unanimously wrong on Virginia’s public records law

Several different constitutional provisions and principles prevent states from discriminating against out-of-state residents. In light of this, it was surprising and troubling that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in McBurney v. Young that it is constitutional for a state to allow only its own citizens to use its freedom of information act.

Visit ABA Journal for the rest.

Website uses public records to generate income

ROANOKE, Va.— WDBJ7 has uncovered a website that could be targeting you and your wallet. It’s already got the attention of the Supreme Court of Virginia and it’s already affected some people in our viewing area. The website is called Court Record Management and it has been raising a lot of red flags.

Visit WDBJ7 for the rest.