Week 8 Report: Freedom of Information Act Legislation from the 91st General Assembly

Week 8 Report: Freedom of Information Act Legislation from the 91st General Assembly

Week 8 of the Legislative Assembly featured a great deal of discussion about 10 different bills that would add new exemptions from disclosure of information under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (the FOIA). In the past, new exemptions have been very difficult to get passed in the legislature and as a result the Arkansas FOIA is commonly considered one of the strongest in the country.
 
Of particular note are HB1403 by Rep. Boyd, which addresses disclosure of accident reports, HB1622, which would allow government entities more time to produce records pursuant to a “burdensome request,” and SB373, which would exempt attorney-client communications and work product from disclosure. There are also a number of bills that would exempt information deemed security-related, such as SB131 (exempting records of the State Capitol Police), SB12 (exempting school security records), HB1590 (exempting records relating to the Governor’s Mansion), and HB1469 (exempting “emergency preparedness documents” by the Dept of Community Correction).
 
So far, 1987 bills have been filed in the House and 633 bills have been filed in the Senate. Today, March 6th, is deadline for bills to be filed for this session. If history is any indication, we can expect that the total number of bills by the end of the day to have increased significantly. - Erika Gee 
 

AR - HB1236 TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBERS OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WHO DIES IN THE LINE OF DUTY; AND TO EXEMPT CERTAIN LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS FROM DISCLOSURE; AND TO DECLARE AN EMERGENCY.

Notes: Exempts from FOIA video, photograph, or audio recordings (including from body-cams and dashboard cameras) depicting or recording the death of a law enforcement officer. (A custodian of such a record who violates this law would be guilty of a Class D felony upon conviction).
Last Action: Returned by the Committee Do Pass (March 2, 2017)
Amendments:
Amendment H1: Sponsored by Gazaway
 
Notes: Provides that an accident report shall be exempt from disclosure under FOIA until 30 days after the date of the accident.
Last Action: REPORTED CORRECTLY ENGROSSED (February 13, 2017)
Scheduled Hearing:
Date: March 7, 2017
Time: 10:00am (CST)
Location: Room B, MAC
Amendments:
Amendment H1: Sponsored by Boyd
Amendment H2: Sponsored by Boyd
 
Notes: Exempts from FOIA emergency preparedness documents of the Department of Community Correction, including various enumerated sections of the Department of Community Correction's Emergency Preparedness Manual.
Last Action: Correctly enrolled and ordered transmitted to the Governor's Office. (February 28, 2017)
 
Last Action: Read the first time, rules suspended, read the second time and referred to the Committee on CITY, COUNTY & LOCAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE- HOUSE (February 17, 2017)
 
Notes: Exempts from FOIA various records relating to the Governor's mansion and mansion grounds.
Last Action: Returned by the Committee, with the recommendation that it Do Pass (March 2, 2017)
 
Notes: Provides government entities with "a reasonable amount of additional time" to produce a record if production of the requested record within the three day time period would "substantially and unreasonably divert the resources of the government entity compelled to disclose the public record from the other duties and obligations of the government entity."
Last Action: Read the first time, rules suspended, read the second time and referred to the Committee on STATE AGENCIES & GOVT'L AFFAIRS- HOUSE (February 21, 2017)
 
Notes: Allows for compliance with FOIA requests by uploading public records to the internet.
Last Action: Read the first time, rules suspended, read the second time and referred to the Committee on STATE AGENCIES & GOVT'L AFFAIRS- HOUSE (February 21, 2017)
 
Notes: Exempts from FOIA emergency and security records and other information that is related to public school districts or public school that provides prekindergarten through twelfth grade education or that is related to a state-supported institutions of higher education.
Last Action: Returned by the Committee with the recommendation that it do pass as amended 4 (March 2, 2017)
Amendments:
Amendment H1: Sponsored by Lundstrum
Amendment S1: Sponsored by G. Stubblefield
 
Notes: Exempts from FOIA records related to the operation, emergency procedure, and security personnel of the State Capitol Police.
Last Action: Returned by the Committee Do Pass (March 1, 2017)
Amendments:
Amendment S1: Sponsored by G. Stubblefield
 
Notes: Exempts from FOIA a record that constitutes an attorney-client communication or attorney work product.
Last Action: REPORTED CORRECTLY ENGROSSED (March 2, 2017)
Primary Sponsor: Senator Bart Hester (R)
Amendments:
Amendment H1: Sponsored by Davis