FOIA enforcement shouldn’t hinge on whims of judges, Arkansas attorneys say

Attorneys Robert Steinbuch and Joey McCutchen, in a June 17, 2021, opinion piece for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, contrasted two Freedom of Information Act cases before two judges, resulting in far different outcomes. “When litigating FOIA cases, the outcome significantly depends on the judges’ commitment to transparency over politics,” they write….


The News & Observer: The Freedom of Information Act isn’t just for journalists. Here’s how you can use it too.

If you follow The News & Observer’s investigative stories, you’ve probably seen this phrase: “a Freedom of Information Act request” or “obtained through a public records request.” Those requests are made through what’s known as FOIA — journalists pronounce it “FOY-ah” — and refer to laws that govern public information. While news reporters are some of the most…


Kansas Legislature passes bill requiring open student fees deliberations, access to documents

If Gov. Jeff Colyer signs the latest budget bill passed by the Kansas legislature, Wichita State will have to open its student fees deliberations next year. The Kansas Legislature sent a budget bill to Colyer with an amendment that will require Wichita State, and five other regent universities receiving state funds, to hold open deliberations…


Judge rules Arkansas State Police public information officer violated Freedom of Information Act

A judge has ruled that Arkansas State Police public information officer, Bill Sadler, violated the Freedom of Information Act.

Circuit Judge Stephen Tabor found Sadler had committed five civil violations of the FOIA law when he relied on a "blanket police" and failed to give valid reasons for not releasing dashcam videos.

Judge Tabor ordered those videos be released Monday in five cases being overseen by attorney W. Whitfield Hyman.


Proposed bills offer secrecy provisions in Arkansas

Arkansas lawmakers are considering new secrecy provisions for the State Capitol Police, some attorney-client relationships and Arkansas Community Correction.

The Senate State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the proposals Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The bills are among at least 10 removing coverage of records under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

Transparency concerns have been raised by the Arkansas Press Association, which represents the Democrat-Gazette and newspapers across the state.


Arkansas Prosecutor: Fort Smith School Board violated Freedom of Information Act

The Fort Smith School Board has been found in violation of the Freedom of Information Act for a thread of emails among board members that discussed the new slate of officers prior to elections.

Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue issued a letter to the school board members Nov. 8 stating “after careful review of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and the relevant law, I believe that a violation of the Freedom of Information Act has occurred.”


Arkansas AG: Electronic files considered ‘in storage’ under FOI law

In an advisory opinion last week, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge addressed a question about the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act that the attorney general’s office had never been asked before, and her answer has drawn some criticism.

The question, posed by state Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Benton, concerned what constitutes “storage” when it comes to digital files on a computer or cell phone.


Arkansas Republican Party official sues governor over rejected public records request

From The Republic: LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The executive director of the Arkansas Republican Party filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to force Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to comply with her public records request for documents his office received from those seeking appointments to state boards or commissions.