FOI Coalition Hears From A.G. McDaniel

The Arkansas FOI Coalition met Tuesday morning to review the status of the FOIA after the recent legislative session and to hear from Attorney General Dustin McDaniel about his activities to publicize the law.

McDaniel is conducting several “FOIA roadshows” around the state this summer to education citizens and officials about open records and open meetings.

The office particularly wants to reach newly-elected officials who may not be familiar with their obligations under the act.

The coalition also discussed the recent legislative session, which saw few significant changes to the FOIA, with the exception of SB345 by Sen. Percy Malone: “To Establish a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.”

That measure created the 19th exemption to the FOIA by closing the records of a prescription drug database.  The coalition argued unsuccessfully that personal health information is already exempt under HIPPA, and other aggregate data should be public.  The bill was signed by Governor Beebe on March 17th.

The coalition supported three bills favorable to open government that also become law, including the Open Checkbook Act and a proposal to add improvement districts to entities covered by the FOIA.

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