UPDATE: FOIA Survives Attempted Legislative Assault

A last-minute attempt to suspend enforcement of the Freedom Of Information Act during the COVID-19 emergency failed in the closing hours of the General Assembly’s special session this weekend.

The provision would have allowed local governments to delay responses to FOIA requests for 30 days or more and would have applied retroactively. That means public bodies that have ignored the Attorney General’s instructions to continue to comply with FOIA would have gotten a free pass. The measure also would have granted them license to ignore new FOIA requests until the emergency is over.

The Better Government Association has vigorously opposed all attempts to water down FOIA during the pandemic and lobbied hard against this provision in SB2135, the government emergency administration bill. You can read testimony from Policy Director Marie C. Dillon and General Counsel Matt Topic here.

The FOIA provision was removed from the bill before a House vote, and the Senate passed the bill as amended. Thank you to those who contributed their voices to the fight.