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Thursday, July 02, 2009

N.C. lobbyists argue against creating an open government unit

The North Carolina House Finance Committee heard arguments on a bill that would create an open government unit with the Department of Justice, the AP reported. The department would issue advisory opinions and provide mediation services. However, Paul Meyer with the North Carolina League of Municipalities says the unit could slow down information access because the more than 1,500 state and local government agencies would feel forced to ask the open government unit for an opinion rather than their own attorneys.
City and county lobbyists argued Wednesday that a proposal to create a new state office to handle open government disputes and a change in how legal fees are awarded could delay further the release of documents.

The "Open Government Unit" with the Department of Justice would issue advisory opinions about public records questions and attempt to work out public records and open meeting issues without going to court.

The bill, heard but not voted on by the House Finance Committee, also attempts to make it easier for news media outlets and individuals suing in public records lawsuits to collect attorney fees if the documents are released.

More here.

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