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May 2021

Thanks to feedback, we're tightening this year's summit, which will be conducted online Sept. 28-30. We want to hear from you. What topics, sessions, speakers and themes would you like included? Share your ideas by clicking the button below, or by emailing National Freedom of Information Coalition staff at nfoic@nfoic.org

Send Your Summit Ideas
Partnership Update
The National Freedom of Information Coalition conducted a three-part “Public Records Bootcamp” training program in partnership with Uncovered: A Cold Case Platform. “Working with NFOIC to provide this level of training and access to experts and expertise has been truly amazing,” said Ashlee Fujawa, Head of Community at Uncovered.
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Areas of Focus
NFOIC members identified at least 60 policy priorities, when asked by email for examples. Because most NFOIC member groups are 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, they are limited in terms of directly lobbying state legislatures.
But they advocate for policies and laws through activities that include providing media interviews and legislative testimony; training and speaking about FOI matters; and publishing FAQs, op-eds, newsletters, sample FOI letters, white papers and full texts of laws.
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From the Headlines

Loophole allows Wisconsin legislators to destroy emails; 'It's troubling,' FOI council leader says

Unlike other public officials in Wisconsin, state legislators can destroy documents to avoid records requests, according to a report by the Racine County Eye. “Obviously it’s troubling,” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. “It allows legislators to make things go away that they would rather not see the light of day.”
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So-called transparency bill is far from perfect, but 'better than nothing,' Michigan coalition director says

"Is it as transparent as full disclosure? No,” said Steve Delie, executive director of the Michigan Coalition for Open Government, of a bipartisan bill requiring legislators to disclose financial information to a committee. “There’s no bones about it, by not having more financial disclosure, the public is not going to be able to hold their lawmakers accountable.

“But what we have now is nothing. This is better than nothing.”

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New law, backed by Virginia coalition, a 'rare victory for open access' to police records, editorial says

"In the ongoing tussle between government’s efforts to shield itself from scrutiny and the public’s rightful demands to see behind that curtain, this is a rare victory for open access,” reads a Daily Progress editorial.
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Florida clamps down on COVID-19 records, taking a 'so sue me' attitude, transparency advocates say

Records requesters seeking information about COVID-19 in Florida face long delays and large fees.

“But perhaps more worrisome, we’re often hearing that some agencies will stonewall, fail to respond, and provide nothing, for months,” said Pam Marsh, president of the First Amendment Foundation of Florida. “It’s basically a ‘so sue me’ kind of attitude, daring the requestor to enforce the law.”

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California coalition sues sheriff's office for failing
to provide misconduct, use-of-force information ...

The California-based First Amendment Coalition has sued the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office for failing to provide information about deputy misconduct and use of force.

The sheriff’s office responded to records requests with unjustified delays and denials, according to the lawsuit.

“Unfortunately, the public has largely been left in the dark about the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, and that needs to change,” said FAC Executive Director David Snyder.

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... and it sues county for access to COVID-19 data

“It’s troubling that government officials would so blatantly disregard their transparency obligations at a time when people need more information, not less, about the public health emergency,” First Amendment Coalition Executive David Snyder said. 
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Arizona coalition files motion urging court to keep election recount methods open to the public

The Arizona First Amendment Coalition filed a motion Monday, April 26, 2021, opposing a contractor’s request to keep secret its methods of recounting ballots in the metro Phoenix area. “It is difficult to conceive of a case that warrants transparency more than this one,” the lawsuit reads.
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Nebraska media outlets object to governor's new rules for press credentials; 'smacks of arbitrariness'

Media outlets in Nebraska have objected to an application process for press credentials, saying the governor’s new requirements appear arbitrary.

“Failing to be transparent about what information tends to result in approval or denial disregards the importance of relating the questions in the application to a legitimate governmental purpose and, as such, smacks of arbitrariness,” stated a letter from Media of Nebraska to Gov. Pete Ricketts.

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Signed, NFOIC

Busy stretch of signing letters and court briefs

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in the past month endorsed at least eight letters and amicus briefs in support of greater transparency. Here's a roundup, with links to read more. 
Training Calendar

Police & the Press

Get the facts about news coverage of protests

Hosted by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
When: noon-1 p.m. EST, Thursday, May 6, 2021 
Click Here to Register

Share your training events

The National Freedom of Information Coalition wants to highlight your training programs, in this newsletter, on nfoic.org, and on social media. Send details by clicking the button below. 

 

Share Your Training Programs
Thank you for your support of the National Freedom of Information Coalition and our member state organizations.
Please consider a one-time gift to support our important cause.
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NFOIC Newsletter Contacts
This newsletter is produced by Todd Fettig, NFOIC outreach coordinator, and Erika Benton, NFOIC external partnership coordinator and communications specialist. To contribute items or for more information, email nfoic@nfoic.orgtfettig@nfoic.org and ebenton@nfoic.org. To read regular FOI updates, visit our blog at nfoic.org and follow us on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Copyright © 2021 National Freedom of Information Coalition, All rights reserved.


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