FOREWORD

South Caroli na first adopted a freedom of information act to provide access to the meetings and records of governmental institutions in 1974. The first significant Supreme Court test for the act revealed substantial weaknesses in the law resulting in a major revision in 1978. Between 1978 and 1987 the South Carolina Press Association saw the need for further revisions in the legislation, particularly in the provision which allowed governmental bodies to create their own exemptions from the open records requirements and the provision which allowed votes in closed sessions of the meetings of governmental bodies. At the time the press group was seeking an overhaul of the law the president of the University of South Carolina became embroiled in a very public controversy regarding the expenditure of University funds apparently without oversight or documentation. As a consequence of the groundswell of public pressure, the legislature adopted major revisions proposed by the association. The law is followed reasonably well by state agencies and bodies, but the political culture of local government bodies, particularly school boards and city and county councils, seems to stimulate noncompliance. The South Carolina Supreme Court has been decidedly in favor of open records and meetings since its earliest decisions. This trend is expected to continue as the Chief Justice of that court was the author of the 1978 act and a principal sponsor of the 1987 revisions while she served in the legislature.