Laura Prather in the Abilene Reporter-News: Legislature Facing Public Information Issues


AUSTIN — When Texas lawmakers meet, freedom of information advocates try to expand citizen access to government — and fight against proposals that block information.

That lobby effort is under way for the 2013 legislative session, when open government watchdogs will try to build on recent victories while battling bills that would place more limits on the Texas Public Information Act...

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas plans to make its positions known at the hearing and during the legislative session that starts Jan. 8, said executive director Keith Elkins. Among other issues, the foundation wants to make sure government business conducted on electronic devices is subject to public disclosure and ensure that government information involving third-party contracts is publicly available.

Some wording in the Texas Public Information Act needs clarification and modernizing, said Laura Prather, a First Amendment attorney with the Austin office of Haynes and Boone, LLP, and a veteran open government advocate at the Capitol.

For instance, the term "official business" isn't defined and should be explained in the law so it's clear that government business done on public officials' electronic devices is subject to the public information act, Prather said. 

Excerpted from Abilene Reporter-News, November 26, 2012.

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