The Leahy Letter -- Sunshine Week Special Edition
Another Illuminating "Sunshine Week"
Another successful “Sunshine Week,” an annual opportunity to take inventory of the public’s right to know what their government is doing, has come and gone. Americans from coast to coast participated in ways large and small. Sunshine Week usually coincides with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, one of the authors of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and an early champion of openness in government.
Senator Leahy is always working at the crossroads of these discussions as the longtime champion in Congress of the Freedom of Information Act – the nation’s premier government transparency law -- enacted in 1966 and strengthened several times since then under reforms he has steered into law.
In 1996, after enactment of his Electronic Freedom of Information Act, directing federal agencies to adapt to the Internet Age by making documents available to the public online, he was inducted into the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame.
His OPEN Government Act was signed into law in 2007, making the first significant reforms in more than a decade to strengthen and bolster the Freedom of Information Act.
In 2008, he introduced the OPEN FOIA Act which promotes greater transparency for legislative exemptions to FOIA and requires Congress to explicitly state its intention to provide for statutory exemptions to FOIA in any proposed legislation. The OPEN FOIA Act was signed into law in 2009.
In the current Congress he has introduced the Faster FOIA Act and twice guided it to Senate passage, each time with unanimous support. The Faster FOIA Act will establish an advisory panel to examine agency backlogs in processing FOIA requests. Despite overwhelming support in the Senate, this legislation so far has been stalled in the House of Representatives.
Senator Leahy also continues to keep a watchful eye out for overly broad exemptions to FOIA in other proposed legislation in Congress. In 2011, the Senate unanimously adopted a Leahy amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to limit an overbroad exemption to FOIA that had been included in the bill. In recent months, Senator Leahy worked with Senate leadership to incorporate transparency measures in the STOCK Act – legislation regulating the financial activities of those with information related to pending or prospective legislative action.
To learn more about Sunshine Week, please click here.
To learn more about FOIA, please click here.
Senator Leahy Holds Annual Sunshine Week Hearing On FOIA
Press ContactDavid Carle: 202-224-3693
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