Saturday, December 29, 2012

South Carolina H.3163 Needed To Put Teeth in FOIA

Stonewall"Transparency" has become a buzzword in politics. In actual practice, government employees in South Carolina would prefer to keep certain information out of the hands of private citizens. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that requests for information covered under the law be provided in a timely manner. The penalties are so  inconsequential, the law is routinely ignored with reluctant government employees dragging their feet or not complying at all. They also routinely charge high fees for documents.

Says the current version of H.3163:

"Section 30-4-110.    Any A person or group of persons who willfully wilfully violates the provisions of this chapter shall be deemed is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall must be fined not more than one five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days for the first offense, shall be fined not more than two hundred one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than sixty days for the second offense, and shall be fined three fifteen hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than ninety days for the third or subsequent offense. The responsible officer or public official of an agency found to have wilfully violated the provisions of this chapter may be punished pursuant to this chapter."

We need this law to be strengthened. See the proposed bill in its entirety here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess120_2013-2014/bills/3163.htm

The bill is sponsored by South Carolina state senator Bill Taylor.