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SPJ FOI Chair Cuillier urges public to contact senators as FOIA bill hits home stretch


November 21, 2014

David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Committee Chair, 520.248.6242 (MST), spjdave@yahoo.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317.361.4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists urges the U.S. Senate to pass the FOIA Improvement Act to help journalists and other citizens better access their government.

This week the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan legislation that strengthens the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation’s premier open government law. Now that the House has approved a similar bill, finality resides with a Senate vote.

Congress doesn’t approve FOIA fixes very often, so getting these amendments through would be a big win for transparency. We think these updates will help journalists and the public have an easier time getting the information they are entitled to see.

The S. 2520 FOIA Improvement Act would put in writing that there is a presumption of openness with public records, would limit the Exemption 5 ‘catch-all’ exemption, strengthen the Office of Government Information Services, ensure agencies can’t charge search and copy fees if they miss their deadlines, and require agencies to post online records that have been requested at least three times.

SPJ encourages journalists to write editorials to spread the word, and urges everyone to contact their U.S. senators. This online form is one easy way to let senators know your wishes.

We applaud Sens. Leahy and Cornyn for continuing to fight for better government. They have championed improvements to FOIA for decades, and for that we all should be thankful. Now, we hope everyone will contact their senators to urge passage of the act.

For more information about what the bill will accomplish if passed, please read this blog post and don’t forget to take action today!

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.


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