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Home > SPJ News > Indiana Lawmakers Should Uphold Governor's Veto of Unprecedented Bill to Revoke Access to Public Records, says SPJ

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Indiana Lawmakers Should Uphold Governor's Veto of Unprecedented Bill to Revoke Access to Public Records, says SPJ

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5/10/2001


Contacts: Ray Marcano, SPJ president, 937/225-2323 or rmarcano@spj.org; Ian Marquand, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chairman, 406/542-4400 or ian@kpax.com

ATTENTION INDIANA JOURNALISTS: SPJ urges all members of the media in Indiana to call or write Indiana legislators and ask them not to override the governor’s veto of House Bill 1083, an effort to exempt all Indiana lawmakers from the state’s open records laws.
Contact the Indiana Senate at: 317/232-9400 or via fax at 317/232-9903.
Contact the Indiana House at: 317/232-9600 or via fax at 317/232-9795.

INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists is hailing Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon's veto of an unprecedented bill to revoke Hoosier residents' access to government records and is urging state lawmakers to uphold the governor's decision.

On Thursday, O'Bannon vetoed Indiana House Bill 1083, which would exempt all state lawmakers from Indiana's public records law. The bill would allow legislators to block - at will - all letters, e-mails and other forms of communication from public view and make their own rules for what information they share with the public.

Indiana lawmakers now must decide if they will attempt to override the governor's veto with simple majority votes in each chamber of the Legislature.

"Gov. O'Bannon has shown great courage and insight by vetoing this unthinkable bill," said Ray Marcano, SPJ president and an assistant managing editor at the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. "Elected officials in the House and Senate can show they believe in open government, too, by not overriding Gov. O'Bannon's veto."

Marcano, on behalf of SPJ and its 10,000 members nationwide, sent letters May 3 and April 6 urging O'Bannon to veto HB 1083 and requesting a personal meeting with the governor to discuss SPJ's opposition to this bill. Marcano also issued March 8 a letter to O'Bannon regarding HB 1083, asking for the governor's support in keeping records open to the public.
A few rare states in the nation already have laws that exempt legislators from open records laws. If the Indiana Legislature overrides the governor's veto and passes its proposed exemption law, it will join a frightening trend and become the eighth state in the nation to have such exemptions for legislators.

"This bill was really about giving the Indiana General Assembly blanket authority to keep anything confidential under its own rules," said Ian Marquand, SPJ Freedom of Information Committee chairman and special projects coordinator at KPAX TV in Montana. "Lawmakers smiled and said 'trust us, we know what's best.' "

The SPJ Indianapolis Pro Chapter recently delivered a petition with more than 100 signatures, calling for O'Bannon to veto HB 1083.

"The governor is an award-winning journalist himself, so we trusted him to veto this affront to the First Amendment and the people's 'right to know,' " said Julie Slaymaker, president of the SPJ Indianapolis Pro Chapter.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON INDIANA HOUSE BILL 1083, SEE THESE WEB LINKS:

TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION ON HB 1083:

Gov. Frank O’Bannon
Office of the Governor
State House
Room 206
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-4567
Fax: 317/232-3443
fobannon@state.in.us

President Pro Tempore Bob Garton

Indiana State Senate
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-9416
Fax: 317/232-9903
S41@ai.org

Democratic Floor Leader Richard Young

Indiana State Senate
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-9427
Fax: 317/232-9903
S47@ai.org

Speaker of the House John R. Gregg
Indiana House of Representatives
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-9628
Fax: 317/232-9795
H45@ai.org

House Republican Leader Brian Bosma

Indiana House of Representatives
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-9604
Fax: 317/233-0538
H88@ai.org

Rep. Jeff Thompson

Indiana House of Representatives
200 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: 317/232-9790
Fax: 317/232-7644
H28@ai.org

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