Public Records Laws Facing Increasing Pressure in Arkansas - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Public Records Laws Facing Increasing Pressure in Arkansas

March 11, 2006 - Posted at 12:38 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Experts say Arkansas laws protecting the

public's access to meetings and documents face increasing attacks

because of homeland security fears, privacy concerns and less

experienced legislators because of term limits.

A year after legislators proposed 30 bills to alter the state's

Freedom of Information Act, journalists fear the legislative

session next year will draw even more efforts to allow the

government to meet secretly or withhold documents.

Tom Larimer, executive director of the Arkansas Press

Association, says there's been more attempts to close records that

have traditionally been open for public viewing. He says

nine-eleven had a huge impact on the issue of access to anything

dealing with government.

The number of F-O-I bills proposed each regular legislative

session has steadily increased since the September Eleven, 2001,

terrorist attacks. Five proposals were made in the 2001 session --

before the terrorist attacks. Fifteen were filed in the 2003

regular session. Of the 30 bills introduced last year, only four

passed. Three of those restricted the public's access to records.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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