Loophole allows Wisconsin legislators to destroy emails; ‘Obviously it’s troubling,’ FOI council leader says

Unlike other public officials in Wisconsin, state legislators can destroy documents to avoid records requests, according to a report by the Racine County Eye. State legislators must comply with the state’s Open Records Law — if they have the requested documents in their possession. There’s nothing preventing them from destroying documents, and one state representative…


Wisconsin court says business group cannot block COVID-19 data

A Wisconsin appeals court panel on Monday, April 5, ruled that a business association cannot stop the state health department from releasing data about businesses linked to COVID-19 cases. The state’s Supreme Court still could prevent the release of the records, if it takes the case. The National Freedom of Information Coalition had signed an…


Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council names ‘Opee’ winners

This year’s Openness in Government (Opee) Awards recognize Wisconsin’s largest newspaper for its dogged records-based coverage of the pandemic and its commitment to the cause of transparency in government, as well as a government agency that led the way in providing a maximum amount of information on COVID-19. Other winners include a municipal judge who…


Law enforcement, open records advocates differ on Marsy’s Law interpretation

When overwhelmingly passed by Wisconsin voters in April, Marsy’s Law was billed as a major step forward for crime victims’ rights, but public records advocates are raising concerns that an over-interpretation of the constitutional amendment by some law enforcement agencies could curtail access to public information. Last week, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office announced it would…


New bill would prevent Wisconsin lawmakers from destroying public records

A Wisconsin state lawmaker is introducing legislation that would prevent legislators from destroying public records. Other government agencies are required to keep public records for set periods of time. However, an exception state lawmakers wrote themselves decades ago allows them to avoid such rules. As FOX6 discovered in a recent investigation, state lawmakers regularly delete emails,…


Clerk of courts files claim seeking reimbursement for $33K in attorney fees incurred during investigation sparked by judge

Ozaukee County Clerk of Courts Mary Lou Mueller said an investigation sparked by Judge Joseph Voiland’s false accusations against her and two other court officials cost her more than $30,000 in legal fees. Neither that investigation nor a criminal probe that preceded it found any evidence to support Voiland’s claims that Mueller, Ozaukee County presiding…


Wisconsin panel votes to purge cases from state online court database

Wisconsin's courts director is considering removing records of criminal cases that ended in dismissal or acquittals from the state's popular online courts database within months, rather than decades, out of concern that people are abusing the information.


Important open meetings case before Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is to hear arguments in a case that could give school boards and other governmental bodies a way around the open meetings law.

The case up for argument Wednesday focuses on whether meetings of a committee created by employees of the Appleton Area School District to review books for use in a ninth grade class should have been open to the public.

More broadly the court will examine whether committees created in the same way that the one in Appleton was brought together allows them to be exempt from the law.


Wi: State still slow to respond to some public records requests

Most state agencies are now systematically tracking requests for public records but can still take weeks to respond to relatively straightforward queries, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has found.

The newspaper made a records request to 22 key state agencies and officials to track their compliance with an order by Gov. Scott Walker in March 2016 seeking to strengthen the state's most important tool for providing information to the public.