Editor's Note

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.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Senator Secrecy's Hijacking Continues....

This from Pete Weitzel over at the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government:

“Senator Secrecy” was quickly outed by the Society of Professional Journalists for his anonymous “hold” on the OPEN Government bill, but the senator, Jon Kyl, R-AZ, continues to block the FOIA reform legislation.

The hold served to keep the sponsors from fast-tracking the legislation and getting it to the floor before Memorial Day. Now it will work to make it more difficult to get jealously-guarded time scheduled for floor action.

We’re confident the bill will pass if it gets to the floor. But first the Senate leadership needs to let it be debated and go to a vote. The key to that may be getting more bi-partisan sponsorshipin the next week or two. That would put pressure on the Republican leadership to set aside Kyl’s objections, forcing him to raise his objections in floor debate.

Sen. Kyl is championing the Justice Department’s opposition to the FOIA bill, and in particular Section 4, dealing with the recovery of legal fees for those who get requested records only after suing. He also opposed Section 6, which creates a penalty for agencies who fail to meet the 20-day response deadline, but the primary sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, appears to have resolved that through a manager’s amendment which adopts the lesser penalty provisions of the House bill, which passed by a 308-117 vote.

Section 4 is a critical provision in the bill for public advocacy groups and journalists.

I’ve attached a analysis of the key sections of the bill reflecting the importance of this legislation to open government.

Continued reporting, commentary and editorials on this can make a difference. July 4 will be the 41st anniversary of the signing of the Freedom of Information Act, and will mark the 40th year since it went into effect.

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