LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Freedom of Information Act is a big issue for the Arkansas legislature during the special session this week.
If anyone requests information from the government like records or data, they ask for it through the Freedom of Information Act.
Since going into effect as federal law in 1967, FOIA has given the public the right to request access to government records. Any federal agency besides the president and Congress must comply.
Arkansas and other states have their own version of FOIA. The Arkansas Freedom of Information Act was signed into state law in 1967 by former Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller.
Someone could ask for things like how many city council meetings the mayor has gone to, what was discussed at those meetings, specific police reports or even the text messages on a government phone.
All someone needs to do is find out which state or federal agency has the information and then write them a request. Being as specific as possible about the requested information can cut down on processing time.
There is no specific FOIA form to fill out. A request can be submitted to the agency by email or fax. How long until the request is granted can vary. In some cases, requests may get a response on the same day. In others, it may take months or years.
The government doesn’t always have to grant the request. An agency can deny handing out information if there’s a national security issue or an ongoing investigation.
There is major legislation regarding FOIA being discussed in the Arkansas legislation this week.