Fresh off the heels of landmark Freedom of Information Act reforms that President Bush signed into law on New Year’s Eve, two U.S. senators are quickly moving forward to further beef up federal open records law.
The newest reform bill introduced today by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) would force agencies to specifically reference FOIA when introducing new provisions that would exempt records from disclosure. Such provisions are typically referred to as "b(3) exemptions" after the statutory provision within FOIA that incorporates exemptions from other, non-FOIA statutes.
The bill would make it more difficult to slip a new FOIA-related exemption into a thick agency-specific bill without also summoning the attention of open government advocates. A similar provision had been part of an early version of the OPEN Government Act of 2007, but was ultimately dropped before the bill became law.