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States take action in honor of Sunshine Week

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  1. Freedom of Information
People from different media groups, public offices and non-profits have come together this week to celebrate transparency in government. Below…

People from different media groups, public offices and non-profits have come together this week to celebrate transparency in government. Below is a short summary of some of the efforts that have been undertaken throughout the country:

  • As a pre-cursor to the event-filled week, Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bill (OPEN FOIA Act)  that would force Congress to clearly state any exemptions to FOIA.
  • Reps. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.) wrote an opinion article in support of a federal shield law.
  • A survey released by the National Security Archive at George Washington University found that while FOIA amendments have improved customer service at agencies, no progress on backlogs or electronic FOIA requirements has occurred.
  • In Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced that free online training for public records management for officers and agencies will soon be available.
  • Meanwhile, in North Carolina, Gov. Mike Easley initiated a statewide review of the state’s policy on deleting e-mails. He =further promised that the examination will be conducted through open meetings and public hearings.
  • In New York, both chambers are using Sunshine Week to introduce legislation that would open up government information. Proposed bills will strengthen the state’s Open Meetings and Freedom of Information laws and require agencies (of the governor and the judiciary) to release expenditure reports.
  • New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) has introduced legislation to improve the state’s Open Public Meetings Act by giving more prior notice about public events.
  • Other Sunshine Week events and announcements will continue throughout the week and may be found on the Sunshine Week Web site.