When I sat down Tuesday in front of the State Government Committee to testify in support of House Bill 2408, I had no idea what to expect or how warm the group would be to this significant open government legislation.
In my 13 months here, I haven't felt a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings toward the free flow of information between government and the people it serves.
Residents will soon have the option to request town data using Myersville’s Freedom of Information policy. No one has questioned why the Maryland rural western Frederick County town of 1,678 residents did not have a Freedom of Information Act, Town Manager Kristin Aleshire said at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We’re just keeping up with the times,” Aleshire said.
Myersville, incorporated in 1904, may adopt a policy that is similar to the Hyattsville FOIA model. “We found it to be a good fit for a smaller town,” Aleshire said.
Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and John Cornyn of Texas, leaders of the Judiciary Committee, have long shown an admirable commitment to open government, and their recent bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act is winning a ton of praise. Some of its reforms make sense, but, unfortunately, its key provision is a horrible idea. By reducing the protection now given to deliberations within the executive branch, it would have a chilling effect on those discussions.
A bill making the University of Delaware and Delaware State University subject to more public scrutiny has been released from a House committee, but with an amendment that guts the intent of the bill and may even weaken existing open-government provisions.
The bill discussed Thursday revises Delaware’s Freedom of Information Act to remove an exemption for the two schools, which receive millions of dollars in taxpayer money each year but are mostly exempt from open records and open meetings laws.
Senate File 1770 had already received unanimous support in the House and the Senate. Known as the Timberjay bill, it would require that all government contracts with private business be subject to the Minnesota Data Practices Act, even if that open access is not specifically identified in the contract.
Last week Gov. Mark Dayton signed that bill, demonstrating that he understands and agrees with the public’s right to open access to government data.
The Wisconsin Legislature is embarked on yet another attack on the state's longtime tradition of open government.
This latest attack, which has support from both sides of the aisle, is a bill that would remove from the state's online records system criminal cases that do not lead to convictions or are overturned on appeal.
The Michigan House will soon consider bills that exempt firearm records from the Freedom of Information Act.
The bills also set up a method for law enforcement to obtain the records if it's needed for investigation purposes, although the bill says they would have to detail "reasonable suspicion" before they could gain access.
The House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill that would make Freedom of Information requests easier with potentially faster response times.
H.R. 1211, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 was co-sponsored by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and puts into action an executive memorandum from President Barack Obama that calls on all agencies to have a "presumption of disclosure" to all FOIA decisions.