From CFOIC: House committee unanimously endorses bill to open records on wage-law violations

A wage-theft transparency measure that died in the Colorado legislature last year passed unanimously Thursday in the House Judiciary Committee.

The amended version of HB 17-1021 is identical to a proposal that earned bipartisan House support in 2016 but was killed in a Senate committee. The bill allows the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to disclose whether an employer has cheated its workers.

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Utah won’t release details on Amazon tax deal, says info would give advantage to competitors

The Utah State Tax Commission is keeping confidential the details of a new deal for Amazon — which makes an estimated 21 percent of all online sales — to collect sales tax for internet purchases made by Utahns.

The commission this week denied an open-records request for that information, filed by the Libertas Institute, a Salt Lake City-based group that says it fights for liberty.

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Public contracts shrouded in secrecy

Many public contracts are shrouded in secrecy. Government contracting, which involves billions of dollars in public funds each year, has become one of the least transparent systems that state and local governments maintain, according to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Under the guise of protecting “trade secrets,” state and local governments are withholding critical information about public spending. That allows private entities to claim that some information is proprietary and its disclosure would harm their business.

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VA: Gas industry seeks regulations delay, FOIA exemption for fracking

The gas industry is pushing for a delay in new Virginia drilling regulations until it can get state law changed to protect key information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

These regulations, the result of a review that started at the end of 2013, are slated to be finalized shortly before the end of the year. Industry lobbyists this week asked legislators on a commission that monitors the executive branch's regulatory process to help delay implementation until at least July 2017.

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Booz Allen Hamilton and the “trade secrets” FOIA exemption

From MuckRock: MuckRock is in the middle a massive project looking into Edward Snowden’s former employer, mega-contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. After reviewing some redactions from responsive contracts received from the FCC, MuckRock’s Michael Morisy was curious about the consultation process on exemption 4 (trade secrets) redactions. So he filed another FOIA for processing notes and emails.

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NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for November 22, 2013

From NFOIC:  A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

Minnesota high court: Business not subject to open-records laws

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Appeals court says US Trade Representative can withhold classified document in FOIA case

Washington Post:  WASHINGTON — An appeals court ruled Friday that the U.S. Trade Representative can withhold a classified position paper prepared during free-trade negotiations, reversing a lower court that had ordered the document’s release under a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Sunshine Week: Mixed results

Opinion from Democrat and Chronicle:

In an era when time-pressed technophiles have groceries delivered to their doors and buy tickets en route to the cinema with ubiquitous sidekick gadgets, the meaning of convenience is rewritten daily.

For democracy’s sake, however, government bodies can no longer conflate a convenience with a right. There should be no confusion about public access to information.

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