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Editorial: FOIA for 2015

Posted: December 24, 2014 11:04 a.m.
Updated: December 26, 2014 1:00 a.m.

Freedom of information (FOI) issues don’t make for juicy reading, as some things involving the General Assembly do. They’re fairly mundane and generally don’t attract the interest of too many people. But such issues are extremely important, and there are several of them which are surfacing in the legislature for the coming year.

Four state senators have introduced a bill opening up autopsy records. This is a vital issue, and one important reason can be seen right here in Kershaw County. A Lake Wateree resident and certified public account, Glenn Folsom, was shot by U.S. Marshals recently at his home after he failed to report for prison following his conviction for stealing money from a client. If such records -- and of course, there are many other throughout the states -- aren’t released to the public, important issues could remain cloaked in a cloud of secrecy.

Six senators have pre-filed a bill which would require agendas for all regularly scheduled meetings of public agencies such as Kershaw County Council and Camden City Council, including a host of lesser-known entities. Among other provisions, it would stipulate items can’t be added to an agenda later than 24 hours before the meeting. That’s important, because the press and public need to know what’s going to be addressed by elected and appointed officials. Some legislators are also working to improve an FOI bill from last term which would speed up and ensure the release of important documents and would make such documents more readily available to the public. It would also set up a hearing procedure for individuals and bodies which violate the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

All of these issues are important in an open and free society, and we hope lawmakers will move forward with them with all speed.

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