‘The Idahoan’ ruled exempt from Sunshine Law, qualified as a ‘newspaper’

A 48-page newsprint candidate-endorsement publication mailed to voters statewide is exempt from campaign finance reporting rules under Idaho law because it qualifies as a newspaper, the Idaho Attorney General’s office has ruled. That’s because Idaho law is narrower than federal law, wrote Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, classifying such publications as newspapers as long as…


Ratings agency warns in brief against ‘dramatic expansion’ of Florida’s Sunshine Law

State regulators and an organization that proposes workers’ compensation coverage rates in Florida defended themselves in pleadings to a state appeals court this week, seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that they had violated open-government laws.

Attorneys for the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, submitted their arguments in a brief filed Wednesday with the 1st District Court of Appeal. The state office of Insurance Regulation is also a party to the suit, filed by Miami workers’ compensation attorney James Fee.


Florida Supreme Court: Board must pay in public records case

Florida government agencies that lose lawsuits filed by people seeking access to public records will have to pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a Jacksonville-based case.

And it doesn’t matter if the agency didn’t know it was breaking Florida’s public records laws when it denied or limited access to records, the court ruled.


Editorial: Let the sun shine on public meetings and records

In various locales around Missouri, government officials have engaged in wanton violations of the state’s Sunshine Law either through carelessness or willful defiance. Whatever the excuse, there is no excuse.

The public has a right to know how decisions are made and taxpayer dollars are spent. Keeping tabs on officials becomes much harder when they cloak their activities in secrecy. The denial of public access serves as an open invitation for corrupt practices and mischief.


Opinion: Florida lawmakers continue to chip away at open government

The Ted Nugent Relief Act — a proposal to keep information on hunting and fishing licenses secret — is dead.

So is another bill that would have kept certain data about voters secret from the general public while still making it available to candidates, political parties and PACs.

And an attempt to undo access to public information in Florida as we know it was neutralized so that it gained the acceptance of the First Amendment Foundation.


Florida Senate passes compromise on records suits

In a unanimous vote, the Senate on Wednesday passed a compromise version of what started as the session’s most contentious bill involving public records exemptions.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, would exempt agencies sued for public records violations from absorbing attorney fees if a judge determined a complainant was intentionally harassing or forcing a violation against that agency.


Missouri legislation would close police reports of suicides

A Missouri lawmaker who tried to kill herself last year now wants to make police reports of suicides and attempted suicides closed records.

Rep. Genise Montecillo’s proposal to restrict access to those reports received approval Wednesday from a House committee. Montecillo, a St. Louis Democrat, tried to kill herself in June 2015.


Missouri lawmakers claim they’re exempt from the Sunshine Law

When he first became chief clerk of the Missouri House in 2006, Adam Crumbliss’ view of Missouri’s Sunshine Law likely wasn’t much different than most.

“Legislators are part of government,” he said. “Government records are open. So I assumed legislative records should be open.”

Over time, as he’s studied the issue further, his opinion evolved.


Meet the woman fighting behind the scenes to defend open government in Florida

Barbara Petersen has been fighting back efforts to make Florida’s government less transparent for more than 20 years. There haven’t been many battles more consequential than the one she’s waging right now.

Over the last few years, there have been reports about a handful of people or firms using the state’s strong public records law in gotcha-style stings, essentially to extract legal fees from unwitting violators. Predictably, that led to demands to change the law.


[Op-ed] Protect Floridians’ right to know: Where we stand

The art of compromise seems to have died in Washington, D.C. Fortunately, it still has a pulse in Tallahassee.

This week the Florida Senate sponsor of one of the most pernicious bills in the current legislative session agreed to some positive changes. The amended bill isn't perfect, but it's greatly improved. 

Now the House needs to follow suit.