Open it up

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By Ralph Damiani

It was good to read that President Obama has ordered heads of executive departments and agencies to side with openness in administering the Freedom of Information Act.

“All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open government,” he wrote.

Good to hear. We hope the state was listening.

One of the topics that the Legislature is – again – considering is a law that would open conference committee meetings. Something that has been defeated time and time again.

Open government is not a media thing, it is not a newspaper thing, it is a citizen thing. Openness is goodness for all of us.

This measure has included by the governor in previous calls and he has consistently said if it comes to his desk, he will sign it.

At least 43 states open conference committees to the public in some form. None of those states has reported any significant problems or delays as the result of opening the meetings.

This is both an ethics and a freedom of information issue. Conference committees in effect make law by reconciling differing versions of a bill.

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