ACLU of Arizona Urges Senator Kyl to End Hold on FOIA Bill

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
August 2, 2007 12:00 am

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Group Says Bill Would Increase Openness and Accountability in Government

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today urged Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) to end his hold on bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the public’s right to know. The OPEN Government Act (S. 849) would eliminate the backlog in FOIA requests and provide reasonable consequences on federal agencies that miss deadlines for complying with FOIA.

“It is both sad and ironic that Senator Kyl placed a secret hold on legislation designed to increase openness and accountability in our government,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “The senator needs to lift his hold and allow this solid bipartisan legislation to become law.”

Currently, government agencies often take months or even years to respond to requests, including delays lasting 20 years or more. The OPEN Government Act would strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in several key areas, such as giving FOIA requesters a tracking number enabling them to follow the status of requests and providing incentives for federal agencies to process FOIA requests from the public in a timely manner.

The bill was reported favorably out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and enjoys strong bipartisan support. Similar legislation was already passed in the House of Representatives. Senator Kyl’s hold is the only thing keeping the OPEN Government Act from becoming law.

“The failure of government agencies to comply with FOIA is a national disgrace,” added Meetze. “The fact that Senator Kyl is blocking this legislation should give every Arizonan pause for concern. If and when Senator Kyl does lift his hold, he should not introduce any poison pill amendments altering the bill.”

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