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It's Sunshine Week... FOIL it!

Mar 15, 2011 8:16 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="http://www.sunshineweek.org"][/caption]This is Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information that got started in 2002. The national effort is spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors. The key funder has been the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with significant support from ASNE Foundation. In 2011, The Gridiron Club and Foundation contributed $10,000. The idea is "to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger," according to Sunshineweek.org. "Like many families, Sunshine Week's grandfather lives in Florida... The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors launched Sunshine Sunday in 2002 in response to efforts by some Florida legislators to create scores of new exemptions to the state's public records law. FSNE estimates that some 300 exemptions to open government laws were defeated in the legislative sessions that followed its three Sunshine Sundays, because of the increased public and legislative awareness that resulted from the Sunshine Sunday reports and commentary. Several states followed Florida's lead, and in June 2003, ASNE hosted a Freedom of Information Summit in Washington where the seeds for Sunshine Week were planted." The event is designed to coincide with National FOI Day and James Madison's birthday on March 16. The Freedom of Information Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, making the public’s access to government records a legal right. “I signed this measure with a deep sense of pride that the United States is an open society in which the people’s right to know is cherished and guarded,” Johnson said on signing the legislation. The Register-Star's Francesca Olsen has an informative piece on FOIL which includes a step-by-step set of instructions on how to file for government information, accessible here.

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