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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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In South Dakota, A Proposal for FOI Reform...

A task force is working on a plan to help settle disputes that arise about access to public records in South Dakota.

Here’s the basic idea behind the plan: Have the Office of Hearing Examiners take over responsibility for settling disputes. Anyone who has been turned down in an attempt to see a record in the state can appeal to the OHE, which would determine if the initial denial was right or wrong.

The OHE decision, too, could be appealed in the state court system.

It’s a proposal that has merit, considering the many shades of gray that exist in this state when it comes to open records.

At present, decisions to grant access to records rests at the level of the request. For instance, if a person walks into the local school and asks to see a certain record, the decision likely rests with the business manager or superintendent. Beyond that, some feel there aren’t many places to appeal that decision without the help of a lawyer.

Under the proposal being worked on by the task force, the person who was denied will have options. Even to the media — which is experienced in such situations — this will be an asset. If the proposal becomes law, future disagreements about public record access may have an amicable solution.

But questions remain....

More here.

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