DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – State lawmakers across the country introduced dozens of bills this year to close or limit public access to a wide range of government records, information and meetings.
That’s according to a nationwide review by The Associated Press.
Freedom-of-information advocates say they are alarmed by the trend toward government secrecy. Most of the proposals did not become law, but advocates are bracing for more fights next year.
In Arkansas, new laws will seal a host of school and police records. Florida approved 19 new exemptions to its open-records law. Nebraska lawmakers debated whether to keep secret the suppliers of drugs used in executions.
And in California, lawmakers shielded from public review the emergency action plans for dams, after nearly 200,000 people were forced to evacuate following a spillway failure last winter.
A Free Press survey found Michigan is one of only two states in which the governor has a blanket exemption from public record laws. The other is Massachusetts, which also is one of fewer than a dozen states where state lawmakers have a blanket exemption.
The trend has alarmed freedom-of-information advocates.
They say it’s another way for agencies to hide embarrassments and intimidate critics. The cases also can force requesters to pay their own legal fees, even if they prevail.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)