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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.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mississippi Coalition to Push Back...

A great update on Mississippi, where an NFOIC coalition is working with FOI advocates to renew efforts to reform the state's FOI laws:

Newspaper executives and open-government advocates across the state are planning a campaign to roll back what they believe is increased secrecy in Mississippi government.

In a meeting in Jackson recently, some of the state's leading voices for government transparency discussed plans to push the Mississippi Legislature to reform the state's decades-old open-meetings and open-records acts. Among the group's goals are increased access to records involving police investigations, political contributions and quasi-governmental agencies such as university foundations.

Over the years, legislators have peppered the state code with exemptions to the open records law, reducing access to the machinery of state government for everyone from reporters to regular citizens, said Stan Tiner, vice president and executive editor of The Sun-Herald in Biloxi.

"We have killed freedom with exemptions in this state," he said.

Organizers envisioned a public awareness campaign to inform residents in the state on how exemptions in the state law allows government business to be conducted in secret.

Participants in the strategy session said it is important to emphasize that open records is more than a newspaper issue and that it affects how state and local government serves residents...

Representatives from papers around the state participated in the meeting, as well as The Associated Press and the Mississippi Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Mississippi.

The push for open government reform is expected to coincide with the beginning of the next term of the Mississippi Legislature in January.

More here.

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