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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Denver Post: PLan to Hide Legislative Proposals Too Extreme

On the last day of 2007, President Bush, rarely praised for his administration's openness, signed a bipartisan bill designed to help citizens get more information about what their federal government is up to.

Now, we may see the unfortunate flip side in Colorado. A bill drafted by Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, would keep more government work in the shadows.

She should shred her first draft.

"The scope of that [draft] bill is breathtaking," said Charles Davis, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and a journalism professor at the University of Missouri.

"Legislative records are pretty well protected in Colorado already. This, well, it's like that protection would extend forever," Davis said.

Today, draft bills in the Colorado legislature are not considered public information — the argument being that legislators need the ability to candidly discuss and refine their ideas before going public.

That premise is debatable. In Florida and Missouri, draft bills are not protected, and citizens can get hold of them to try to identify whose fingerprints are present — whether the insurance industry's or labor.

More here.

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