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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Open-government advocates oppose Illinois FOIA rewrite bill

The current Illinois FOIA is weak but better than the revised bill, open-government advocates told The State-Journal Register. They initially supported revisions drawn up by Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but changes last week, supposedly made by staff for the House speaker and Senate president, were met with opposition. Included in the changes: "a blanket prohibition on releasing home addresses and license plate numbers" and "allowing public officials to satisfy FOIA requests with paper records, and charging for each page, rather than providing information in electronic format."

Open-government advocates say Illinois would be better off with an existing but flawed Freedom of Information Act than with a revised law released by House Democrats late Tuesday, just one minute before midnight and less than two weeks before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn.

Rather than making records more accessible, officials with the Illinois Press Association say the provisions put forth by legislative leaders would make it easier for government officials to delay and ultimately keep some records secret.

“This would just open up a whole new range of litigation,” said Beth Bennett, IPA director of government relations.

More here.

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