Dates, locations set for 2021, 2022 and 2023 FOI Summits

The National Freedom of Information Coalition has scheduled its 2021, 2022 and 2023 FOI Summits. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 FOI Summit will be conducted virtually, Sept. 24-Oct. 1. More details will come soon, so please keep checking this website and NFOIC’s social media and newsletter. The 2022 FOI Summit is scheduled for…

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NFOIC announces competition for 2021 Freedom of Information papers

Do you have research in freedom of information that will make a difference? Then submit your proposal to the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s research paper competition for presentation during the 2021 FOI Summit. Top-three papers will earn cash prizes and will be guaranteed publication in the online Journal of Civic Information, published by the…

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Why Isn’t the Michigan Legislature Covered by the Freedom of Information Act?

Nearly every state allows citizens to access records about state legislatures and governors. Not Michigan. It’s not for a lack of trying. Bills introduced in each of the last two years have passed the Michigan House but died in the Senate. Jane Briggs-Bunting, founding president and current board member of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, says she’ll keep working…

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Puerto Rico governor pursues freedom of information law

Puerto Rico’s new governor has signed an executive order creating a new public affairs and public policy secretary position that will be responsible for drawing up proposed legislation similar to the Freedom of Information Act that has long been enforced in the U.S. mainland.

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Why open government advocates are feeling good about the news from Ohio

Here comes the sun, Here comes the sun, and I say, It’s all right. George Harrison could have written those words about Ohio in recent weeks, as a pair of legal developments have called attention to freedom-of-information issues in the Buckeye State and promise to make state and local government more open.

As one of my friends in the legal world there put it, “Not sure who flipped the switch, but it feels like Sunshine Week … right now.”

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Advocates argue budget threatens Connecticut’s right-to-know agency

Both the state Freedom of Information Commission and the state's leading right-to-know advocacy group warned Friday that a proposed 20 percent budget cut for the commission — and the possible transfer of its public information officer into Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office — could greatly weaken state government transparency.

But the Senate chair of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, West Hartford Democrat Beth Bye, warned that the FOIC’s funding is far from settled, and many alternatives remain on the table.

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Wisconsin board knew public records changes were ‘significant’

The state Public Records Board used contradictory messages to describe its decision last summer to expand what kinds of records could be destroyed immediately.

To the public and news organizations, the message was: The board made a routine clarification that was not "substantive." That was the explanation given by Matthew Blessing, the board's chairman, in downplaying why the board did not even give advance public notice by putting the matter on its Aug. 24 agenda.

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How two court rulings involving universities breathe new life into the right to know

Sunshine Week brought some welcome news for transparency advocates this year: Two state courts ruled, in suits brought by news organizations, that freedom-of-information laws require private entities to disclose their records if they perform a public function.

The rulings, which arrived last week during the annual effort to promote awareness of open government, took up one of the key recurring disputes in public-records law, and both resolved it in favor of greater access.

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Editorial: Three FOI successes to celebrate during Sunshine Week

It’s easy during Sunshine Week, the national effort to promote awareness of open-government issues, to feel exasperated by the many recent and ongoing attempts to shield public information from public view.

State lawmakers tried to kill a program that helps citizens resolve FOI disputes. States are keeping secret their execution protocols. A police chief prohibited a citizen from photographing public records as he reviewed them. The list is long, and I even wrote in January that government secrecy was the most serious threat last year to a free press in the US.

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NEFAC to host New Hampshire event, publish FOI reports from all New England states

New England First Amendment Coalition will be joining open government advocates for the next seven days to celebrate the 11th annual Sunshine Week. 

This national campaign is an initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of transparency and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, non-profits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.

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