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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Changes to N.M. open government bill 'cripple' it

A New Mexico bill promoting transparency has turned sour for open-government advocates, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The proposed bill was intended to reduce the time agencies have to produce the information from FOI requests (from 15 days to 10) and clarify that requests can be made via e-mail. The bill's sponsor, Ken Martinez, is now trying to restore the bill after a substitute by the House Health and Government Affairs Committee stripped out the quicker-release provision and added in new exemptions, which would allow the denial of public records to someone a public body is in litigation with. The exemptions tend to be broad, such as exempting "records of a public body, that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the public body to avoid the frustration or a legitimate government function."
Open-government and press advocates say proposed new exemptions to the state's public records law have made a good government bill turn bad.

House Bill 507, sponsored by House Majority Leader Ken Martinez, D-Grants, aimed to speed up the response time for getting public records, as well as make clear that e-mail can be used to make a formal request under the act.

But a committee substitute for the measure being pushed by executive agencies under the Richardson administration stripped out the quicker-release-of-records provision from the bill. Meanwhile, the new bill would create new exemptions to the Inspection of Public Records Act — changes that Martinez cannot support and never intended.

More here.Link

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