Lawmakers’ latest FOIA reform effort would strengthen governmentwide ombudsman

When Congress last updated federal open government laws in 2007, it created a new ombudsman intended to serve as an honest broker between Freedom of Information Act requestors and agencies. But unlike most other ombudsmen, this one works for one of the parties in the disputes it's supposed to mediate. Pending legislation would change that by making the Office of Government Information services (OGIS) truly independent from the executive branch.

More

Rep. Corley stands by ‘no’ vote on FOIA bill

S.C. Rep. Chris Corley maintains that a recently passed bill in the House would put unnecessary time constraints on government entities to process information requests.

Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt, however, said the time constraints can be overlooked because of a bigger compromise on the bill, which restricts inmates from filing Freedom of Information requests.

More

Leveling the price of the freedom of information

Starting this summer, most public bodies in Michigan will be somewhat more accountable, a bit more transparent, in allowing people to discover what they do and how they do it.

The so-called Freedom of Information Act — so-called because it’s studded with exceptions and doesn't apply to the legislature or courts — was modified during the just-ended legislative session to give people a bit more leverage to press government for information.

More

State streamlines Freedom of Information Act requests

A new law that was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder in January will ensure local governments cannot charge excessive fees for requests under the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The bill, which was introduced by Michigan Sen. Mike Shirkey, limits the per-page amount a municipality or other public body can charge for documents requested under the act, or FOIA, to 10 cents.

More

FOIA Reform Bill Introduced in House

House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) have introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the Freedom of Information Act.

The FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2015 would, among other things, require agencies to process FOIA requests with a "presumption" of openness, putting the burden on the agency to demonstrate an identifiable harm in releasing it.

More

New Michigan FOIA Caps Per Page Fees, Drops Costs Further If Agencies Miss Response Deadlines

If all goes according to plan, this sort of thing won't be happening in Michigan anymore.

It's not at all clear if the police in Michigan are using the full extent of these [cellphone data-slurping] tools, and that's what the ACLU was curious about. So, it filed a Freedom of Information Act request on the matter… and was told that it would cost $544,680 to get that information. That doesn't sound like "freedom" of information, now does it?

More

Two Bills In Legislature Seek To Amend Arkansas FOI Law

Two bills filed in the Arkansas Legislature would amend sections of the the state's Freedom of Information Act (Act 93 of 1967). One by Republican State Rep. Dan Douglas of Bentonville would add an exemption to public records available under the FOIA. The other, filed by State Rep. Nate Bell of Mena would set up a review process for executive sessions held by public agencies or commissions.

More

A new act in Springfield Illinois

It’s show time again in Springfield, and the supporting cast is the same as last year — more than a hundred Democrats who maintain veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate.

But there’s a new star, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who enters stage left with a fresh script that promises to replace “business as usual” with fiscal and ethical reform.

More

Opinion: Light shines brighter in Michigan

Government transparency doesn't mean much if it is costly to obtain government information.

Michigan's Freedom of Information Act was marred by that obstacle. The law's intent — to make information accessible to the public — was undermined by the officials of government and other public organizations who demanded excessive fees to provide it.

More