EDITORIAL/Attack on Transparency: Governor's plan to weaken FOI law is bad for state, citizens

Arkansas has what is generally considered one of the strongest Freedom of Information laws in the country.

That transparency in state government is good for everyone. It helps keeps the public aware and officials honest.

Now Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders wants to draw the shades on that transparency.

Among the issues up for consideration in the special legislative session that began Monday are companion House and Senate bills that would shield certain state government information from public view.

Some of that information concerns the governor's travel records. And Sanders has touted the restrictions as necessary for the security of herself and her family.

But the proposals go much further. If passed, state agencies would be allowed to keep much policymaking information from public view. The public would not have access to information about how state money is spent defending government officials. And it would discourage Freedom of Information Act lawsuits against government entities by making it harder for plaintiffs who win to recover attorney fees.

None of that has anything to do with the governor's security.

Sanders' push to handicap the Freedom of Information Act has drawn opposition from Republicans and Democrats, liberal and conservative groups. And rightly so.

The state's Freedom of Information Act has served the people of Arkansas for more than 50 years. And with any luck lawmakers will make sure it continues to do so by rejecting these House and Senate bills.

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