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FOIA bill

Posted: December 24, 2012 9:42 a.m.
Updated: December 26, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Almost any reasonable measure which makes government more open and accessible to South Carolinians is good, so we’re glad to see Rep. Bill Taylor once again offering a bill that would prohibit tax-supported agencies from charging excessive fees for providing documents and would require them to respond more quickly to public requests for information.

Taylor has sponsored similar legislation in the past, saying that present remedies for seeking such information basically boil down to hiring lawyers and going to circuit court. That, of course, is expensive. He says his legislation provides a “quick remedy to a problem that seems insurmountable.” That makes sense. A similar bill sailed through the state’s House of Representatives last year before stalling in the Senate after an amendment was added requiring legislators’ memos and correspondence to be subject to FOI requests. That’s not a bad idea, but an executive with the S.C. Press Association says such a politically volatile proposal could be filed as a separate bill to sink or swim on its own.

Open government benefits everyone, and there’s no reason for some agencies or school districts in the state to be able to throw information requests -- as long as they’re reasonable -- into a quagmire. Taylor’s bill would be good for every South Carolinian.

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