LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas lawmakers worked late into Monday night to file a bill that would limit the public’s access to certain government records.
A new bill was filed just after 9:30 p.m. that would amend the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Last week, Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for a special session to, in part, change FOIA and keep certain records about her travel and security out of public view. The original draft also included a broader “deliberative process” exemption. After a lot of opposition, lawmakers decided to amend the proposal on Monday before introducing it in committee for debate. The bill was filed as SB 9.
Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs), submitted the new bill to create something everyone can be happy with.
“I could’ve put the original bill on the floor today and got the votes to pass it but there’s a difference between getting something to pass where members have concerns and getting something where we all are comfortable with,” Hester said.
The FOIA discussion is not a partisan issue, lawmakers on both sides are worried about transparency. This issue has united groups on all sides.
“FOIA, it’s not a partisan issue there are a lot of Republicans against this there are united groups, unlike any issue I’ve ever seen,” said Sen. Gred Leding (D-Fayetteville).
SB 9 is scheduled for a committee hearing at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
Gov. Huckabee Sanders called for revisions to FOIA, tax cuts and changes to COVID-19 regulations for the special session.
The special session is set to end on Wednesday, Sept. 13.